Tomatoes – tips for your best harvest yet
Originally from South America, tomatoes tend to prefer a warmer climate and suffer when the temperatures drop below 10°C. Consequently, take care not to plant your tomatoes outdoors too early. This will prevent a number of problems such as catfacing (malformation and scarring of the fruit), brown leaf spots and leaf curling. A tomato plant can usually survive these issues and recover in the warmth. However, if it was a surprise frost that caught your tomatoes then the damage is usually permanent and it is best to start over.
Getting the best results from your tomato plants
For best results we recommend covering the tomatoes until you are sure that the weather will be warm enough. A great indicator for this is usually when the temperature remains above 10°C overnight, so buy yourself an outdoor thermometer to check when you next pop in to one of our garden centres. Next, choose the warmest spot possible in your garden. Ideally keep your tomato plants in a greenhouse or plastic grow-house. Make sure that the spot is also aerated and a fair distance from your potatoes because blight can travel and flourishes in humid conditions. Another option to try out is planting your tomatoes in pots in the sunniest part of your terrace or balcony for great fruit and decoration!
- Stake or cage all your plants (except if you are growing trailing varieties in a basket or small bush types).
- Tie the main stem to a vertical bamboo cane (again not for bush or hanging basket types).
- Remove side-shoots regularly- when they get to about 2.5cm long (again not for hanging basket types).
- Water consistently– tomatoes grow most successfully when they have consistent moisture. With all watery fruit (like berries) you will get bigger juicier ones with lots of watering. To avoid diseases do not water the foliage but instead aim your water straight onto the root zones and the compost. Irregular watering is the cause of many common problems including cracked fruit and blossom end rot.
- Remove the growing point of the main stem two leaves above the top truss (stem with small green fruits). This should be done once your vine tomato has grown to have seven trusses if grown indoors, or four trusses if grown outside.
Feeding tomatoes should start after the first truss (stem with small green fruits) has set in. We recommend the product Tomorite as it has been a gardener’s friend for decades. It is ideal for other plants too including flowering plants due to the high potash content. It contains seaweed extract which supplies many micro-nutrients and produces full flavoured tomatoes. Outdoors you feed every 7 days, in a greenhouse feed twice a week.
Start picking when fruit is ripe and fully coloured. At the end of the growing season if you have some green tomatoes still on the plant, we recommend this delicious green tomato chutney recipe.
Varieties to choose from
We sell numerous tomato varieties throughout the growing season available in batches as they are ready from the greenhouses. Without a doubt our top selling varieties year on year are;
Gardeners Delight: a flavoursome cherry tomato known for heavy crops and great to grow in tomato bags or pots.
Shirley: an early maturing tomato that is known for heavy crops and also shows excellent disease resistance. Ideal for growing in a growbag or as a greenhouse cordon.
Moneymaker: grown as a cordon (vine) this variety produces smooth, medium salad tomato sized fruit that are delicious in flavour.