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Growing Tomatoes

How to grow tomatoes in pots, containers, growbags, garden beds and allotments

 

Tomatoes

Family/Latin Name

Solanaceae - Lycopersicon esculentum

Type of Plant

Fruiting - Crop Rotation Group = Others

Suitable for

 

Pots, Containers, Garden Beds, Allotments, Greenhouses, Growbags, Hanging Baskets


Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

See also:-  Vegetable Growing Glossary  |    Container Growing  | Buying Seeds & Plants

 

Plant Dimensions

Height 20-90cm/8"- 3ft depending on variety 

Yield per plant Depending on variety:-
Greenhouse Cordon - 3.6kg/8lb
Outdoor Cordon - 1.8kg/4lb
Bush/Dwarf/Cherry - many - some +80

Time between sowing and harvesting

Greenhouse - 16 weeks

Outdoor 20 weeks

Sowing time

March - April - temperature   16-21C/60-70F

Where to Sow

Indoors in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter filled with compost. 

How to Sow

4 seeds per 7.5cm/3" pot or in trays of compost 2.5cm/1" apart - 2cm/ ¾" deep. 

After Germination

Keep soil moist but not too wet.

Growing on -  under glass in Greenhouses

As the plants get bigger and develop good root balls, divide and pot individual plants up into larger pots in stages ending with one plant per 20cm/8" container (min) or 3 per growbag.

 

Growing on -  in Pots

Once the plants have reached 7.5cm/3" high, transplant individually to 7.5cm/3" pots.

 

Harden off plants and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. 

 

As the plants get bigger and develop good root balls, divide and pot individual plants up into larger pots allowing one plant per 20cm/8" container (min),  3 per growbag and up to 2 per hanging basket. Place in a warm sheltered sunny position. 

Growing on -  in open ground

Once the plants have reached 7.5cm/3" high, transplant individually to 7.5cm/3" pots.

 

Harden off plants and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed and  plant out  in beds or borders 45cm/ 18" apart. 

Aftercare

General - Water regularly, but do not keep the compost very wet. Irregular watering may cause the fruit to split. Feed with tomato food twice a week once the fruit start to swell .

 

Greenhouse: Tall/Cordon   varieties will need staking with 2.4m/8ft canes,  tying the plants to the support at 20cm/8" intervals. Pinch out side shoots which will appear where the leaves join the stems, when they are about 2.5cm/1" long.   Once tomatoes have reached 1.2m/ 4ft remove the leaves below the 1st truss. Once the plants have reached the top of the cane, pinch out the growing tip

 

Misting the plants and tap the supports from time to time to aid pollination. Keep the greenhouse well ventilated and use greenhouse shading once the temperature reaches 27C/80F.

 

Outdoors: Tall/Cordon varieties will need staking,  tying the plants to the support at 20cm/8" intervals. Pinch out side shoots which will appear where the leaves join the stems, when they are about 2.5cm/1" long.   Once tomatoes have developed on 4 or 5 trusses, pinch out the growing tip.

 

Outdoors: Dwarf and bush varieties need little maintenance apart from feeding and watering as above. You may wish to cover the soil beneath the plants with polythene or straw to protect the fruit.

Harvesting

Pick fruit when ripe and fully coloured as and when they mature. Crops over about 8 weeks.

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Red Spider Mite
Indications First sign is that the leaves may look pale and mottled. Particularly in greenhouse grown plants.
Treatment Organic
1. Wash them off with a hose.
2. Spray them with soft soap.
3. Sprays containing pyrethrum every 5-7 days on the upper and lower sides of the leaves.
Prevention Difficult. Try keeping the atmosphere humid.
Aphids
Indications Leaves distorted, yellowing and stunted sometimes leading to virus
Treatment Organic
1. Spray with soft soap
2. Use water through a hosepipe to knock the aphids off the plants
Chemical
Spray with an insecticide containing pyrethrum
Prevention None
Blossom End Rot
Indications Leathery dark patches at bottom of fruit
Treatment None
Prevention Do not let the soil or compost dry out. Even watering is essential especially when using growbags.
Potato Blight
Indications Brown edges and patches on leaves which spread. Stems have blackened patches.
Treatment None once the disease has taken hold
Prevention Chemical
Spray with Dithane once the plants have been stopped (tips pinched out) and repeat every 2 weeks if the weather is damp.

 

Companion Flower Graphic

Basil, Onion Family, Nasturtium, Mint, Marigold, Asparagus, Carrot, Parsley, Cucumber


If you know aphids are a problem in your area, grow flowers such as nasturtiums, calendula asters,  dahlias, and zinnias nearby (but not too close) as aphids find them attractive so they act as a lure.

 

Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies". 

 

To learn more about companion planting click here.

In the Kitchen

Storage:   Refrigerate in the crisper drawer for up to 6 days

Preparing:  Remove any stalks.  Rinse well in cold water. As the skin is edible, there is no need to peel unless the recipe specifically requires this.  Likewise with the seeds.

Cooking:  Tomatoes are highly versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are used ion a myriad of recipes and are particularly useful when making sauces for pasta or pizza.

Uses are so numerous, we suggest you visit our sister site www.recipes4us.co.uk for lots more culinary information and recipes

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