Success with tomatoes

If you’d like to get a really good crop of juicy tomatoes this season, then have a quick read of our top tips below… you can apply the same principals whether you are growing in pots, growbags or raised beds/straight in the soil.

  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. 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)
  3. Tomatoes will grow much better in a greenhouse. If you don’t have a greenhouse, grow your seedlings on in pots on a sunny, warm windowsill or conservatory and then plant them out in June when the weather is warmer, choosing the most sheltered, sunny spot that you can find in your garden. (If you can pop a sheet of black polythene over the bed for a few weeks beforehand, this will help by providing warmer soil.)
  4. Plant seedlings a little 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.
  5. As tomatoes grow, cut off any lower leaves that risk touching the soil. This is a good way to prevent blight.
  6. Keep tomatoes consistently watered – try to avoid periods of drought or overwatering. This will massively help them to produce healthy fruits that don’t have split skin or blossom end rot.
  7. Feed regularly – A fortnightly liquid feed (or wormcast tea) once the plants start flowering will really help, and if you are growing in pots or in a growbag, you can use a fortnightly feed right throughout as the plants quickly use the nutrients from their containers.
  8. Pinch out side shoots to focus the plant’s energy on producing flowers and fruit (you don’t need to do this on bush plants like Tiny Tim)
  9. Pinch out the growing tip once you have 4 or 5 flowering trusses. Again, this will help focus energy on flowering and fruiting.
  10. Once the plant produces flowers and you see your first few tomatoes forming, then it is good to use a liquid feed fortnightly.
  11. Plant tagetes, marigolds and basil in amongst the tomato plants as companions. This will help to keep aphids at bay, and the basil is said to improve the flavour of the tomatoes too (we’re not entirely convinced, but it is jolly useful for adding to tomato salads and sauces anyway!)
  12. Towards the end of the season, remove excess foliage so that the plant can focus its energy on the tomatoes (as pictured!) and the sunlight and warmth can help to ripen them well.