Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Outdoor tomatoes are a tender crop, so choose a warm spot in front of a south-facing wall if you can. They’ll do well in containers or bags on the patio or balcony. Some of the larger varieties will require constant care, but you can avoid a lot of hard work by choosing varieties like Totem, bred as a bush tomato, or Tumbler and Tumbling Tom, both of which are brilliant for hanging baskets or containers.Whichever you pick, it’s important to make sure they all receive plenty of water and feed, especially when they are fruiting.

Sowing/planting time

May – June.

How to grow

Trailing tomatoes can be planted in hanging baskets – as a guide, 3 plants would be happy in a large 16” basket. Plant them into a multipurpose compost, remembering to include a plastic liner and some water retaining gel in the soil to reduce the need to water. You may also wish to add some slow release fertiliser such as Osmocote into the soil, which would help the plants while they get established. After you’ve planted them, water the plants in, and cover the top of the container with a thin layer of moss to help with water retention. Use a tomato feed when the first fruits start to form.

Upright tomato varieties

If an upright (cordon) variety is grown loosely, tie the stem to the cane. Make the ties at 12” intervals as the plant grows. Side shoots will appear where the leaf stalks join the stem, and you should pinch these out when they are about 1” long. Remove yellowing leaves below fruit trusses as the season progresses, but don’t overdo the de-leafing process. Water regularly in dry weather to keep the soil constantly moist: alternating dryness with flooding will cause blossom end rot or fruit splitting. Feed the plants regularly with a tomato fertiliser, and when small tomatoes have developed on the 4th truss (fruiting stem) remove the growing tip 2 leaves above this truss. As with all vegetable seeds, always read the seed packet before you start planting.