Get Tomato Plants off to a good start

1. Give their roots space & depth

If you’re growing in the ground, you can do this simply by leaving 40cm between plants. If growing in pots, most advice is to choose a 15 litre (approx 30cm) pot for each plant. If you can find a bit bigger, it will make a huge difference. Our preference would be to go for a 40cm pot (which usually works out to about 30 litres). For those of you growing in a growbag, try splitting the grow bag into two and standing each halve on its end so that you can plant a tomato plug plant in each half and give them good depth of soil (rather than planting three to a bag standing horizonatally meaning they have only shallow soil for their roots)

2. Add plenty of fresh compost

Make sure you add plenty of fresh compost before planting, and add a handful of wormcast fertiliser as you plant each plug. This will really help to keep them well nourished, giving you better flavour from your crop. If growing in pots, fill pots with fresh compost before planting (i.e don’t reuse old compost) – multipurpose compost will be perfect.

3. Give them warmth

Tomatoes will grow best in a greenhouse or polytunnel as they really need the warmth. If you don’t have a greenhouse or polytunnel, choose the most sheltered, sunny spot that you can find in your garden. If you can, place the tomato plants against a south facing wall, somewhere out of the wind – the heat of the sun will gather in the wall, and overnight will reflect out to keep your plants a little warmer, and this will make a big difference.

4. Plant seedlings a little deeper

Plant tomato seedlings deeper than you normally would, with 3-4cm of the stem under the surface of the soil. This encourages a better root system and thus healthier plants. If you look at the plants when they arrive, you’ll see little hairs and nodules on the stem – these will become roots if planted deep and so make the plant that much stronger. Ideally, if you plant them in this way, the lowest leaves will be fairly close to the ground as pictured.

5. Don’t plant outside until late May/June

We haven’t started shipping tomatoes just yet, but when we do, we would encourage you to grow your tomato seedlings on in small pots on a sunny, warm windowsill or conservatory and then plant them out in late May or June when the weather is warmer. They will do much better that way and the plants will be healthier than if you planted them outside straight away. If you do need to plant out immediately, best to cover them with a little bottle cloche (just cut an old lemonade bottle in half and pop it over the top of the plant like a mini-greenhouse.)