Learn how to grow tomatoes, simply and easily, with this how to guide. There are many varieties of tomatoes to try and grow, and we've included things to look out for in your tomatoes and ways to solve them, including rot, leaf problems and cracking.
Growing your own tomatoes is really simple and you only need a couple of plants to get plenty of delicious tomatoes come the summertime. There are many varieties of tomatoes for you to try, from the small cherries - a favourite with children, to the fuller-flavoured giant beefsteak tomatoes, and even a range of colours.
When growing tomatoes from seeds start around 6-8 weeks before the final frosts. Seeds should be sprinkled thinly on top of a good quality seed compost and covered with about 1.5mm of compost and watered lightly.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be potted on – taking care not to touch the plant itself.
There are many varieties of tomatoes for you to try, from the small cherries, to the fuller-flavoured giant beefsteak tomatoes, and even a range of colours.
When the flowers on the cluster of stems are starting to open transfer them to 23cm pots, Growbags or plant outside around 45-60cm apart. Plants for growing outdoors should be hardened off first.
The main stem should be supported by a vertical bamboo cane or wound up a well-anchored but slack piece of strong twine. Tomatoes grown as bushes or hanging baskets do not need support.
Remove the side-shoots regularly when they are about 2.5cm (1in) long. Those grown as bush or hanging basket types do not need to have sideshoots removed.
Keep the soil or compost moist and feed every 10 to 14 days with a balanced liquid fertiliser – such as Westland Tomato Food - and change to a high potash one – such as Sulphate of Potash - once the first fruits start to set.
Remove yellowing leaves below any developing fruit stem clusters.
Once the plants have 7 stem clusters (or 4 when outdoors) or when they reach the top of the greenhouse remove the growing point of the main stem at around two leaves above the top cluster.
Start picking when the fruit is ripe and fully coloured.
- If the soil is allowed to dry out and is then overwatered the sudden changes in water content can cause cracking of the fruit.
- Always aim to keep plants evenly moist.
Blossom end rot
- The bottom of the fruit can turn black and become sunken if watered irregularly and the soil lacks calcium.
- Water regularly and not sporadically and never allow the soil to dry out.
- Incorrect water, light, nutrient or temperature levels can all cause problems with tomato leaves. These are physiological disorders caused by the growing conditions rather than by pests or diseases.
- Controlled sunlight and temperature levels avoid extremes which cause disorders. Avoid erratic watering, making sure soil stays constantly moist.