This year has been a whirlwind. We are all turning to our gardens to ground us and bring light and rejuvenation back into our lives. Fruit and veg is a great way to get stuck into your garden and you will get to reap bountiful rewards later in the year. What better vegetable to start with on your delectable journey in the garden than tip top tomatoes? These crowd-pleasing favourites come in vast varieties from growing type, to shape and size to colour. There truly is a tasty treat for every taste bud with these radiant rubies of the allotments.
If you made your choice on growing tasty tomatoes but the choice of variety has left your mind spinning, here are a few things to consider when picking what cherry explosion to plant in your garden this year. Would you like a bush or a cordon? A bush type is traditionally planted in pots and hanging baskets to allow them to trail over the sides. Cordon’s grow tall and need to be supported by canes, these are the ones most associated with growing tomatoes.
Once you have made this choice it is on to the next; what shape and type are you wanting to whet your appetite?There is beef, cherry and standard, all different and all delicious.
If you are wanting to grow your timeless tomatoes from start to finish, we have a great selection of seeds from our suppliers Mr. Fothergill’s and Thompson & Morgan’s. There is Mr Fothergill’s ‘Big Daddy F1 (Beef)’, a large beefsteak with a delicious flavour. Or for something more petite Thompson & Morgan’s Tumbling Tom Red, juicy cherry tomatoes of the bush variety which are naturally trailing, perfect to cascade over the sides of baskets and containers. For your everyday special we have ‘Gardeners Delight’ cordon variety, aptly named as is popular with gardeners, producing flavourful, bite-sized cherry tomatoes that are ideal for adding to salads and sandwiches Once all our decisions are cemented in, we now turn to our timeline and checklist to turn our silent seeds into bellowing beauties fruitful with our delicious treats for summer.
February – March
Pick up your tools and get your planning head on. This is the perfect time to start sowing your seeds and prep your greenhouse and borders for your summer planting. If you hate to see your borders bare, investigate planting early cropping choices such as radishes, wild rocket, spring onions or early variety carrots. They should be ready to harvest when your toms are ready to be tucked into the soil to grow on. When planting your seeds, sow them in 5 – 6 cm pots like our mini seed and cutting tray with 6cm pots. With its holder it makes for easy transport during the germinating to greenhouse to ground stage of growing.
Your serene seedlings need to be planted in moist compost and topped with a layer of vermiculite, watered and then covered with cling film. Vermiculite is naturally occuring,nontoxic and helps absorb nutrients rather than letting them be washed out. Once germinated, (this is when the seed has sprouted and shows signs of growth), remove the cling film. Keep your seedlings damp and transfer to an 8cm pot, like our 18 round pot tray with 8cm pots. This will help the plants to become sturdy and well rooted ready for transferring into their final home in later months. Once you have tucked your babies into their new bed, it is the ideal time to move them to your greenhouse to keep them warm until their first flowers appear, signalling that it is time to plant.
May – June
If you have missed the seeding season but are still eager to grow some delectable nibbles for summer, have no fear! In-store we supply a great range of tremendous tomatoes from young plants. We have Alicante, Beefmaster F1, Gardener’s Delight, Money Maker and many others, from trusty traditionals to something more exotic.
After the last frost of May, when your sproutling’s have bloomed their first flowers, it is time to plant them into their summer home, be that the green house, border or container. If you are planting into a pot, try to choose something at least 30cm in diameter to allow them space to grow. If your toms are new tenants of your borders, make sure your soil is enriched with well-rotted manure or peat free potting compost. Or if you are not wanting to disturb your blooms and shrubs, grow bags are a great option for temporary grow stations, such as Our Big Tom Planter – full of nutrients, seaweed enriched and rich in calcium and feeds for up to 6 weeks. They will see your tomatoes through their season. However, with grow bags check how long they offer feed as after this period your feeding regime will need to start.
A great idea with Conan tomatoes is to plant them at the base of a cane placed at a 30-degree angle, this helps the fruit to grow away from the foliage and ripen in the sunlight.
In June your bounty should be growing tall with first trusses forming. These trusses are a group of clusters of smaller stems where the fruit form, like little green balls. This is the sign to start the feeding regime. Feed with a general-purpose liquid feed that’s seaweed enriched, like our Levington Tomorite. Or choose a high potash feed such as Vitax Q4 Premium Soluble Feed, apply using a watering can or hose-end diluter. Use as a weekly feed, this will replace your normal watering without feed.
Keep an eye out for greenfly or whitefly and spray vines with recommended insecticide such as Bug Clear Fruit & Veg.
Deter blight & other fungal diseases by making sure your greenhouse is well ventilated. An organic pest control choice is planting marigold varieties like ‘tomato grown secret’ nearby to attract insects that will eat pests. Make sure to water regularly as irregular watering of tomatoes will make the plants vulnerable to disease and rot.
July – October
Your talented toms are now grown and are ready to be enjoyed. However, your plants will still need your tender loving care till the first frost, so continue feeding daily. Make sure to wait until at least a few of your tomatoes are steadily ripening before harvesting your delectable treats. Mix them into salads, blitz down into a sauce or just use as a sumptuous summer snack. Tomatoes are an amazing versatile ingredient to have fresh in your kitchen.
October – November
Your growing vines will start to come to their seasons end, they have seen the sensational summer through and given all they have to give. We have enjoyed their harvest and now it is time to help them on to make way for our winter crop to warm our tums. Remove all remaining fruit to ripen indoors, reduce your watering and withhold the feed. Once you have decided your plant has become silent its time to remove them from their bed to make way for the new.
No matter if you are a complete novice looking to start your very own veggie corner or a seasoned veteran of produce planting, we have tips, tricks and the tools to help make your year more delicious and greener, or in this case redder! Come visit us in store or online where we are here with a smile and helping hand to get you on your way.
Phyllis says her top tip for growing tomatoes is to check your plants daily for growths once they are established. Remove any little growths that appear at the leaf nodes with your finger and thumb, this helps the plant focus on producing fruit, so you can enjoy even more delicious tomatoes!