tomatoes

  • Grow at Home: what size pot do you need for growing tomatoes?

    One of the most often asked questions is "what size pot do you need for growing tomatoes?"

    So we looked at lots of sources and this is what we concluded.  Perceived wisdom is that the ideal pot size is 18-inch (45cm) diameter for determinate tomatoes and 24-inches (60cm) diameter for indeterminate tomatoes.  That is 30L to 60L of compost.  If you want to grow tomatoes like this then hop over to this blog post Grow at Home Tomatoes which will tell you all you need to know.

    But what if you could do it with a lot less compost - maybe 5L?

    We have been running an experiment to prove this is possible.  We have concluded that it is not only possible but actually quite easy.  Our plants have been producing vines of lovely rosy tomatoes for a couple of weeks now so its time to share the secrets.

    The Planter

    The first thing you need is a Vigoroot 5L planter.  This special fabric allows the roots to Air Prune.  If you haven't heard of this before then it is a way to get a super efficient root system.  The roots grow out from the centre and through the porous Vigoroot fabric.  When they hit the air the root end dies off.  This causes the plant to send more roots out from the centre. As you will see from the diagram below this means that you get lots of small effective roots rather than long pot bound roots.

    Haxnicks Normal Vigoroot PotHaxnicks Vigoroot Pot

     

    The Water

    Container grown tomato plants need more watering than garden tomatoes. The soil in planters heats up faster which leads to more water evaporation.

    For plants grown in regular pots or planters a good rule is to water until water runs freely from the bottom. Water in the morning and check the soil moisture levels again in the afternoon. If soil feels dry about 1 inch below the surface, it’s time to water again.

    A lack of water can stunt growth and inconsistent watering will cause splits in the fruit which allow diseases in.  The watering is even more important with Vigoroot as it is porous so will require slightly more than regular pots.  So we used Water Saucers

    Vigoroot, broad beans, beans, watersaucer, water saucer, cior, growlite, hydroponics, veg, vegetables Water saucer wick

    Water Saucers are simple but effective - a water container and a super absorbent capillary wick deliver water straight to the plant as and when it needs it. They are perfect for Vigoroot but can be used with any pot.  The wicks can even be retro fitted to a plant already potted.

    They are quite thirsty plants.  We are refilling our Saucer once every 3 days, adding liquid tomato Food direct into the water.

     

     

    The results

    So here are our tomatoes.  As you can see they grew quite tall!

    We got the seeds from our friends at Jungle Seeds.  They are an indeterminate tomato so should need around 60L of compost to grow this well.  They are Rapunzel Hybrid-i, and are characterised by these amazing long, cascading trusses, each with up to 40 tasty sweet, bright red shiny cherry tomatoes that keep coming all summer long. These are picked individually as they ripen and have a superb flavour that rivals Sungold.

     

    Vigoroot_with_RootsAnd as for those roots - the ones meeting the sides of the pots have air pruned.   And the ones near to the wick have used it to seek out the water.  This gives a partially hydroponic set up.  With a full hydroponic set up the water needs to be oxygenated but this is not needed here. With this set up, the advantage is there is an air gap between the bottom of the pot and the water which allows the roots to access vital oxygen.

    So if you are asking the question "what size pot do you need for growing tomatoes?"  then the answer that Google gives you is definitely not the whole story.

  • Product Bites - Tomato Tubes

    What are Tomato Tubes:

    Tomato Tubes_against_woven_fenceTomato Tubes are like a mini grenhouse for your tomato plants.  They are a tube of lightweight polythene which is fitted over the plant to give the tomatoes the warm moist environment that they need to thrive.

    They offer simple, inexpensive, organic crop protection for tomato plants grown outside the greenhouse.

    What crop are Tomato Tubes for:

    All types of tomatoes.  Anything from large corden varieties to small bush types can be successfully grown in Tomato Tubes

    Where can I use them:

    Use them outside to protect plants from changeable weather.  Unseasonal weather can cause havoc with outdoor tomato crops. Too much rain, too little sunshine, harsh winds, plummeting temperatures...the Great British summer is not always ideal for a bumper crop of tomatoes!

    What's so special about it?

    Tomato Tubes_Close_UpGrowing tomatoes can be tricky if you don't have a greenhouse.  So Tomato tubes level this playing field a little for those without the money or space for a greenhouse.

    They are an organic way of protecting tomatoes from both weather and pests.  The Tube retains warmth and moisture and also boosts ripening - great for late season toms.

    Tomato Tube comes as a 3pk of 2m lengths. Once over the plant it can be supported in the pot with canes and tied off at the top and bottom with the tie wires included in the pack.

    Find out more: 

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Tomatoes

    Buy it Now:  See them here Tomato Tube

    pADDING tEXT tOMATO tUBES

    Walk this way.  Talk this way. Padding this out to make it longer.  Use them outside to protect plants from changeable weather.  Unseasonal weather can cause havoc with outdoor tomato crops. Too much rain, too little sunshine, harsh winds, plummeting temperatures...the Great British summer is not always ideal for a bumper crop of tomatoes! Unseasonal weather can cause havoc with outdoor tomato crops. Too much rain, too little sunshine

  • Product Bites: Tomato Crop Booster

    What is the Tomato Crop Booster:

    Haxnicks_Tomato_crop_booster_frame_with_cover_on_patioThe Tomato Crop Booster is a frame specifically designed for supporting tomato plants.  Properly supported plants put more of their energy into growing fruit and as a result give bigger yields.

    Accessories

    Tomatoes thrive in a warm atmosphere so a poly cover can be bought separately to turn your Tomato Crop Booster into a mini greenhouse. The cover unzips to allow easy access to the plants and has vents at the side to provide ventilation on  warmer days or you can remove it completely.

    What crop is it for:

    Tomatoes of any description but most useful for the Indeterminate or Cordon varieties that can get very heavy and need more support.

    Tomatoes are great to grow now because they are such productive plants that can really help to feed the family. Especially if you only have a small amount of space like a balcony or patio.

    Growing anything is also a great lockdown boredom buster and a fun thing to do with children uder the guise of homeschooling!

    Indeterminate or Cordon varieties

    This is your typical, tall tomato plant.  They have a single long stem and usually grow up canes or twine up to 6' (1.8m) in height.  Cordon varieties produce side shoots which need to be removed, as they appear.  If they aren't removed they will grow into large lateral branches leaving a tangled plant with a lower yield of ripe fruit.

    Where can I use it:

    You can use the Crop Booster either in your garden or allotment or on a patio or balcony.

    What's so special about it?

    Tomato_Crop_Booster_clips_and_bars_close_upThe key to this frame is the way it supports the branches with easily moveable bars.  The bars are attached with easy to move clips.  So, as the plant grows you can simply unclip and reclip to move the supporting bars without having to fiddle round with bits of string.  The branches also rest gently on the bars.  So there is no chance of them getting restricted by ties and getting damaged as a result.  This is helpful in avoiding disease too.  Scrapes and cuts caused by constricting ties can leave wounds where disease can get into the plant.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel here Tomato Crop Booster Video

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home tomatoes

    Buy it Now:  

    Tomato Crop Booster Frame

    Tomato Crop Booster Cover

  • Pumpkin Beth Tomato trial - great news for those growing in Vigoroot

    Vigoroot Pots: Tomato Trial  

    beef_tomato_plant

    Horticulturist and garden writer Pumpkin Beth recently completed a Tomato Trial.  It found that the Vigoroot Potato/ Tomato Planter out-performs ordinary plastic pots when growing 12 out of the 15 tomato varieties tested.

    The average yield was 30% higher in Vigoroot than in normal plastic pots.

     

     

    Trial Method

    All pots used the same Dalefoot compost.  All plants received the same amount of water throughout the trial. Due to its porous nature Vigoroot pots actually require more water than plastic pots. However, since it was necessary to maintain standard conditions across the trial this was not possible. As a result, the plants in the Haxnicks pots were slightly underwatered.  This was noticeable during the trial and subsequently the yield was lower than it could have been. In order to test the true capability of Vigoroot the pack instructions would need to be followed fully so the plants were given sufficient water.

    Growing Problems

    Blossom End Rot or Splitting damaged some of the fruit.  The yield figures did not include this fruit.  However, the plants in the Vigoroot Pots suffered far less than those the plastic pots.

    Tomato_Trial_Disease_table_Vigoroot

    Vigoroot_pot_with_tomato_plantConclusion

    Many people are short of growing space either because they don’t have a garden or because they allocate the space they have to other uses. For these people, growing in containers is a simple and effective solution.

    The 30% higher yield from Vigoroot Tomato / Potato planters is a remarkable result.  Especially as the design of the trial did not allow them to be used to their full potential.

    As well as the simplicity and ease of use of Vigoroot pots and planters, it is evident that they also produce excellent results.

     

    Published with kind permission of Pumpkin Beth.  Website www.pumpkinbeth.com For the complete trial information please see the full report here: https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2019/02/haxnicks-vigoroot-planters/

  • Grow at Home: Companion Planting

    Companion_planting_marigold_red

    Companion Planting

    Companion planting is where two or more crops are grown together for the benefit of one, or all. The most successful combinations mirror nature.  They can be an important part of planning a successful and productive garden.

     

    Deterrent Smell

    Plants have natural affinities with others of their kind.  The smell of volatile oils from many plants can above all discourage pests, making them excellent companion plants. Perhaps the most well known is the relationship between the tomato plant and the strong smelling French Marigold.  This is said to deter whitefly, for instance.

    While there is little scientific proof of these associations working, if you talk to any experienced gardener they will certainly provide plenty of anecdotal evidence.  Tomatoes like to be grown with Basil and Parsley.  Useful for cooks as well as gardeners.  And separating rows of brassicas with onions has always been popular.  This is possibly due to the strong scent of onions confusing the cabbage pests.

    Companion_planting_marigold_carrotsAttracting Pollinators

    English Marigold (Calendula) can provide welcome splashes of colour in the kitchen garden.  The added benefit is that they attract pollinators.  Along with Yarrow (Achillea) and Hyssop they also attract hover flies.  The hover flies will lay their eggs around these plants and when they hatch the larvae feast on aphids.

    Lavender_in_pot_in_flowerEnhancing fragrance

    Some gardeners know Chamomile as the 'plant doctor'.  This is because of its alleged ability to encourage the production of essential oils making their scent and taste stronger. It is attractive and easy to grow so a worthwhile addition to any planting scheme.

    Another garden 'must have' is the super fragrant Lavender. This acts as a general insect repellent whilst still attracting bees to your plot.

    Crops and their Companions

    Different combinations work in different conditions, so experimentation and experience is the best guide. Below are some combinations of crops and their companions that work well in most situations:

    • Asparagus: Tomatoes, Parsley, Basil
    • Beans: Carrots, lettuce,parsley, spinach
    • Beetroot: Onions, cabbages
    • Cabbages: Celery, mint, thyme, onions, nasturtiums
    • Carrots: Peas, radish, chives, onion, leek
    • Courgette: Nasturtiums
    • Lettuce: Strawberry, beetroot, radish
    • Onions: Carrots, beetroot, chamomile, courgette
    • Parship: Garlic
    • Peas: Potatoes, radish, carrot
    • Spinach: Strawberry
    • Tomato: Celery, basil, marigolds, foxglove
  • Pests and Diseases : Red Spider Mite

    What are Red Spider Mites

    Red spider mite are so small (less than 1mm) they are almost invisible without a magnifying glass but they can wreak havoc in a greenhouse or on houseplants.

    Spider mites reproduce rapidly especially at in conditions with high temperature and low humidity.

    At 25°C, a freshly laid egg will hatch, grow into an adult mite and lay more eggs after only 10 days - At 30°C, it's  only 7 days!

    Females can produce up to 150 eggs in their life, laying around 10 eggs per day. These are 0.14mm in diameter and transparent at first. Eventually, they turn white to light yellow.

    What do they look like?

    Confusingly, for most of the year of the year they aren’t red in colour at all as their name suggests.

    They begin life as a greenish-yellow, and only turn red in the late summer/early autumn. The first you know of them may be what looks like sandy coloured ‘dust’ moving around the growing tips and undersides of new leaves.

    What do Red Spider Mite Do?

    Red spider mite suck sap from plants through foliage.

    They will attack almost anything in the greenhouse, in fact, very few plants are fully resistant to this mite. They will feast on fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, as well as flowering plants, like fuchsias, pelargoniums and orchids, and many more besides.

    How to prevent and treat Red Spider Mite

    • Keep a regular eye on all you plants to look out for the early signs. On leaves, you’ll see subtle marks and mottling, and, if you have your reading glasses on you may be able to see the mites themselves underneath the leaf
    • You may also spot white shedded ‘skin casts’, and sometimes tiny round eggs as well. In severe cases, you will see very fine webs near the top of the affected plants
    • It is important to be vigilant and look out for bleached, unhealthy looking leaves, often with yellow or brown speckles. If under continuous attack, leaves will dry up and fall off and the host plant can become severely weakened
    • Red Spider Mite like hot, dry conditions so keeping the greenhouse well ventilated will help to deter attacks
    • Damping down can help to keep the atmosphere humid – which the Spider mite hate. Spray water from a hose or can onto the greenhouse floor and under the staging to keep the air moist – the plants will enjoy it too!
    • Washing leaves with a mild soap solution can be very effective if done regularly
    • Encourage ladybirds and other predators into your garden – they will feast on mites and aphids in your greenhouse. Other biological controls include the predatory mite phytoseiulus persimilis Which can be introduced once temperatures in the greenhouse reach 21 degrees
    • Spider Mites can remain dormant once the temperature drops for up to a year so good hygiene and thorough washing of pots and equipment at the end of the season is a must
  • Salad anyone?

    We have returned back to a very grey and rainy England with not much hope for our little shoots after slight neglect for a week. However, we were greeted with huge shoots bursting to get out of their Rootrainers!  Seems like time to get the husband out building the Haxnicks Raised Bed with it’s very handy Raised Bed Polythene Cover to keep those courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes growing upwards and outwards into something edible for my plate.

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover on and plants inside I have plants now in my Raised Bed

    Most of all, the joy of this Raised Bed is that you construct and locate it wherever you wish, so for convenience it is sitting right outside our kitchen garden door.  As much as I love my garden who wants to traipse to the end of it to pick their veggies!  We have added a variety of herbs too - why not!

     Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and salad plants showing  

    Pull back the polythene cover for easiy watering and as you can see we have a little bed of very healthy young plants which we hope to harvest sometime in July.  We will be back in July with an update!

    Haxnicks Raised Bed with polythene cover off and slightly larger salad plants inside Really growing now - here comes summer!

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