If you’ve often thought about growing vegetables, but have never got around to it, why not give it a go this year?
There is one crop that is relatively easy to master, and will supply you with an excellent crop – Tomatoes.
There is still time to grow your tomato plants from seed, they will germinate in just a couple of weeks, and once potted on into a 9cm pot, will romp away.
If you want take a short cut, and start with a ready growing plant, now is the time to come in and make your choice. And there is the first decision you must make. There are dozens of different tomato varieties, from the small sweet cherry fruit such as Gardeners Delight to the big slicing beef types such as Big Boy.
If you have a greenhouse then you can get going now, tomato plants are tender and will not tolerate a frost or cold weather. Growing in a greenhouse means, as long as you can keep it frost free on a cold clear night, your plants will soon mature and you will be able to harvest your first tomatoes in July.
If you are planning to grow your plants outside, wait until any threat of frosts have passed, the end of May is usually a good time.
The three most popular ways to grow your plants are in a growbag, a planter (which is a jumbo growbag) or in a decent sized pot, something like a 3 litre is ideal.
Growing in a growbag is fine, as long as you keep a very close eye on watering. Your compost must stay moist, and the one drawback of using a growbag is there isn’t a great deal in it, so watering every day is a must. The planter is a better bet, there’s a lot more room for your plants to thrive, and you can get away with missing the occasional day with your watering can. Growing in a large pot using multipurpose compost gives you a lot more room, meaning water can be retained for a lot longer.
One way of growing that has become very popular and great for children to get involved, is growing the variety Tumbling Tom in a hanging basket. Your plant will trail over the side bearing small sweet fruits.
Once the first flowers begin to show you should start to feed with a liquid high potash fertiliser, something like Tomorite is ideal.
When your plants have grown to the roof of the greenhouse, it is best to remove the main growing stem above the top truss.
Although tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, there are a few things to take onboard to prevent any problems. As I’ve already mentioned it is vital to get the watering right. Letting the compost dry out then flooding it means that you run the risk of your fruit splitting, or you’ll get dark patches on your fruit which points to Blossom End Rot. If you are growing outside and the weather turns wet and cold, Tomato Blight can affect your crop, so keep a close eye on your plants to ensure they stay healthy and strong.
We all enjoy growing tomatoes at the nursery, so if you would like some more advice, do pop in.