Warm climate crops such as the tomato are ideal for growing wherever you live. Tomato varieties are popular with city dwellers and edible balcony gardeners alike because they regularly grow well even in poor summers. Whether you love slicing a lovely tomatoes warmed by the sun into a salad, frying a few up for breakfast or just having them at hand to add to a classic passatta sauce, then these summer fruit vegetables couldn’t be easier to grow.
Provided that you choose suitable varieties and start to sow them early in the season, then you should have a fantastic yield from just a few seeds. Get growing tomatoes!
Most people opt to pop these into grow bags, ideal if you have a nice bit of roof space, terrace or a kitchen garden, but with tomatoes there are no rules when it comes to choosing a container or pot. However, do remember to follow a simple rule, the bigger your growing container the lower the maintenance, particularly when it comes to watering and feeding tomatoes which you wont need to do as often.
SOWING TOMATO SEEDS
When and Where
Sow the seeds indoors where it is nice and warm, such as a south-facing windowsill or a sheltered patio facing into the sun in March or April.
Sow into small pots, one seed per pot at the depth specified on the back of our ALLOTINABOX® seed range. Make sure the compost is damp, but not soaking wet and cover with a little clear lid, or some recycled cling film to maintain the moisture and warmth. As soon as the seedlings start to appear they need to lots of sunshine to give them the energy. When the seedlings start to reach the cover or cling film remove it. Now keep your eyes peeled for the roots at the bottom of the pot, once they start showing it’s time to transplant them into your container or pot, we use a large Olive Oil tin and it never fails us year after year. When you transplant the seedlings, add some nice new compost to fill the container. You can remove the fragile plant with an old kitchen spoon, but avoid touching it as far as possible. Now firm it down into the pot again be gentle. Water it well and then put it back into a nice warm spot once again. The plant will now have another growth spurt making it ready for it’s final home.
PLANTING TOMATOES OUT
When and Where
Early June is the best time to transplant into it’s final home. Place the container in a nice sunny and warm spot with plenty of shelter.
Carefully pull the plant and the soil out of the pot. Turn the pot upside down or use the old kitchen spoon again to loosen up the soil. In the final container that you choose to plant, put some nice fresh compost (or if using a grow bag just make a hole) into the bottom and create a nice big hole to fit the plant into. Make sure it’s nice and deep so that the roots can take hold. Once you have transplanted into the container fill up in and around the plant with soil and press around the edges, gently but firmly, now water so that the soil is nice and damp.
If you’ve chosen an upright Tomato variety then these will grow to about 2m in height, these will produce yellow flowers branching out from the main stem, which become the tomatoes.
Other varieties such as trailing or cherry tomatoes will produce magnificent crops in similar ways, but might trial over the container or need support as they grow upwards and outwards. Try tying them loosely with garden twine.
LOOKING AFTER TOMATOES
Simple, Tomatoes have a insatiable thirst, and therefore need regular watering, especially when the fruit (crop) start to appear on the plant. Keep the container damp and not wet and always water the soil not the plant.
‘Pinch out’ is a fancy term of taking out the side shoots from the crop. The small shoots (not the flowers) need to be removed by pinching between the finger and thumb; this helps strengthen the main plant.
Feed the plants every fortnight with a high-potash feed such as organic liquid seaweed or any organic feed, carefully following the instructions.
Tomatoes should be picked when they are nice and bright red, typically this is from August onwards, the tomatoes can be simply twisted off the plant, eaten or added to a recipe, delicious.
Note: One the crop has stopped ripening, you can remove the remaining fruit and use them to create chutney or put them into a stew.
HAPPY GROWING !