Growing Tomatoes - Make it a New Year Resolution

The snow is fresh and the climate unseasonally cold. We should be promoting Frost protection and ideas to keep your plants and seedlings warm... But let's look at a more cheery topic.

The tomato is a delicate or tender perennial which is grown as an annual and when raised in your greenhouse is very successful.

One of the best reasons for growing your own tomatoes is that you can be sure that they are chemical spray free as well as the fact that a greenhouse tomato tastes far better than any supermarket product, firstly because it is picked and eaten immediately while it is warm (refrigerated tomatoes become bland in taste and secondly the flavour is better because it does not have to travel – something a tomato does not like.

There are over 3 000 tomato varieties to choose from and you should ensure that you grow several different varieties which will not only add interest but also ensure against an inferior crop from one variety. I have listed a few that you might like to try - “Gardener’s Delight” is probably the best variety for flavour, yield, early results and easy growing. One of the best cherry varieties is “Sweet 100” and if you want a small yellow tomato then go for “Sunbelle”. “Shirley” is a good red normal size tomato variety which is disease resistant and “Big Boy” is a large red, beefsteak tomato with very few seeds which is ideal for cooking. “Brandy Wine”, another beefsteak variety has an amazing flavour.

Tomato plants can be bought at garden centres but many people prefer the satisfaction and taste that you get with growing your own. Plants that have been on display for any length of time become affected by too much heat and little or no light. It is much more rewarding to raise your own from seed. Remember that if you are going to raise 3 or 4 different varieties deep modular, hinged opening cell trays like Rootrainers are extremely useful as they are both space and time saving.

Tomato seed is sown in a propagator and a temperature of 60°- 65°F is needed for successful germination. If you have a heated greenhouse seed can be sown in late December for planting out in late February or early March for a May/June crop. Most gardeners only have cold houses and then seed should be sown in a propagator in early March and planted out late April for a July crop.

  1. Fill the Rootrainers with the peat free compost
  2. Sow the seeds in late February for an early crop and 4 weeks later for the main crop
  3. Cover the Rootrainer tray with the clear propagating lid and leave in a warm area till seeds have germinated
  4. Remove lid and use under tray as water catcher once plants get tall

There is no need to prick out plants until you are ready to plant them in their fruiting positions. We offer two types of Patio Planters especially designed for Tomatoes and also offer a Cane Support Planter - New in 2010.

Soft-tie is the ultimate garden tie for delicate plants like Tomatoes and can be reused again and again.

Feed once a week with a weak solution of liquid feed. You stand a better chance keeping Tomatoes in a Greenhouse or why not make use of the New Haxnicks Grower System a Garden Tunnel designed for taller plants.

Pick your Tomatoes when they are just turning red and as a tip if it appears that your tomatoes are never going to ripen, pick them and place them in a dark place with a single red tomato. The other will soon get the message.

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