Home Grown Tomatoes
There’s nothing finer than the taste of the first home grown tomato picked and eaten straight from the plant. Growing your own tomatoes (as well as other vegetables) is immensely enjoyable and rewarding and with the price of food constantly rising it makes sense to grow your own now more than ever.
Tomatoes provide our bodies with a great deal of nutrients. An 80g serving of tomatoes (approximately one tomato or seven cherry tomatoes) counts as one of your five-a-day. They produce a compound call lycopene which gives them their red colour. This carotenoid compound has strong antioxidant properties. Tomatoes also contain fibre, potassium, carotene and vitamin C.
Tomato types and where to grow them;
All tomato plants are divided into either cordon or bush types and this is dependant on how they grow. Cordon tomatoes grow tall and produce one main stem that will require training up a garden cane or some other form of support. Bush tomatoes grow as short, bushy plants that do not require training. They may, however, need some support when laden with fruit. There are salad varieties, sweet cherry tomatoes, oval plum tomatoes which are ideal for cooking and the large, juicy beefsteak tomatoes.
Tomatoes can be grown in greenhouses which gives a longer growing season. This method does reduce the risk of diseases such as blight. They can also be planted directly in the garden in rich, fertile, well drained soil or alternatively in pots or hanging baskets filled with a good multi-purpose compost. (Be sure to choose a variety of tomato that is suitable for your chosen position.)
Sowing and planting;
Tomatoes are very easy to grow from seed, but do require warm conditions. They can be sown indoors from late February to mid-March if you are going to grow them on in the greenhouse or from late March to early April if they are going to be grown outside. Don’t worry if you have missed sowing times for this year though as now is the perfect time to purchase tomato plants from garden centres and we have plenty of delicious varieties to temp you here at Poplar Nurseries. Please ask a member of our expert staff if you need any advice.
Keep your tomato plants either in a greenhouse or on a windowsill that is well-lit. The temperature needs to always be at least 16°C (60°F). Water regularly and after about a month they can be planted into their final positions as soon as the first flowers open. If you are going to grow your tomato plants outdoors do not plant out until all risks of frosts have passed.
The Westland Big Tom Planter is packed full of nutrients and ideal for growing your tomato plants. This extra deep planter is seaweed enriched for fruit formation, rich in calcium and will feed for up to six weeks.
Tomatoes are able to grow roots along their stems. Plant them deeply right up to the first set of leaves. They can even be planted on their sides and some gardeners believe that this method forms healthier plants.
Tomato plants should be watered regularly keeping the soil evenly moist. If moisture levels are allowed to fluctuate problems such as splitting fruit or blossom end rot may occur. Be aware that plants in containers will dry out very quickly in hot weather and will therefore need careful monitoring.
Feed the tomato plants every 10 - 14 days with a high potassium liquid fertiliser such as Tomorite as soon as the first fruits begin to swell. It is important to note that giving your plants the correct nutrients will result in higher yields of fruit.
It is beneficial to add a thick layer of mulch such as garden compost or well-rotted manure over the soil around the tomato plants. This will help hold moisture in the ground and also deter weeds. Leave a gap around the base of the plant stem though to prevent rotting.
Pick your tomatoes as they ripen and develop full colour. At the end of the growing season any unripe tomatoes can be harvested and kept in a convenient place such as a drawer with a banana which will help ripen them.