Planting Tomatoes

How To Grow Tomato Plants

Why not try planting tomatoes and discover why this whole veggie growing business is worthwhile. Your own tomatoes straight from the bush are always the best.

Hundreds of types of tomato are available, and I recommend you choose one of the heirloom tomato varieties. They are often more resistant to diseases and they definetly taste better. Find out wich varieties are most suited to your area.

How To Grow Tomato Plants, Lycopersicon esculentum

Starting: Sow the seeds indoors in a sunny spot to plant out later. They germinate in around two weeks. When planting out space the plants 50 cm apart for large varieties, less for smaller ones.

Soil: Rich loam or compost is best for planting tomatoes. Select a new patch each year, or use new potting mix to avoid diseases spreading. The growing tomato plant needs alkaline soil conditions. Dig in some compost ahead of planting.

Climate: Depending on the variety planting tomatoes work anywhere except in very cold areas. Keep seedlings indoors until all risk of frost has passed. Blossoms will drop if the temperature is too low or too hot.

Watering: Tomato growing requires some attention to watering. Irregularities may cause fruit to split, or you might see blossom end rot. Self watering tomato planters are highly recommended since they make watering tomato plants an easy job.

Fertilizing: The plants like regular feeding with liquid fertilizer. Hold back if they start to develop vigorous dark green leafy growth especially after the flowering has started. The leaf growth will be at the expense of flowers. A handful of potash per container will encourage flowers and fruit formation.

Harvesting Tomatoes: Well... this is obvious. Pick them before everyone else see them. Jokes aside, green tomatoes will ripen on a windowsill, but let them ripen on the vine if you can.

Containers: Tomatoes grow well in pots at least 20 cm deep.

Shady areas: Small fruited varieties seem more easily adapted to some shade.

Pests and Diseases: Slugs and snails, tomato caterpillar, mildew, tomato mosaic virus, tomato russet mite, blight, fruit fly, rats. I have seen Cuckoo Birds stuff three or four cherry tomatoes down their beaks in no time.

Indoors: Growing Tomato indoors will extend the season as long as you can provide enough light and warmth. Choose a dwarf or cherry variety. While the plant is flowering, shake it gently each day. The flowers are self-pollinating but need 'wind' for that process.

Support: Different varieties need different types of support. Large indeterminate sorts need strong stakes or a trellis, while cherry tomatoes can hang out of a basket. My favourite, Tiny Tim, is a small determinate bush, but I still support it in a wire cage or with smaller stakes. I don't want a windy day to ruin my hard work. Put support stakes in at the same time as planting out to avoid damaging the roots later.

Pruning: The pruning of tomatoes is the subject of much debate. Many people advocate rubbing out or snipping off all side shoots except for the very first one. The result is a plant with two branches only and limited leaf coverage. They claim fewer but bigger fruits that get more sun. Plants also take up less space.

The second method is to not prune, just let the plant grow as it wants. You can end up with a large plant that may be difficult to support, even falling over. I've seen these with huge amounts of fruits on them.

Which is best? It probably depends on your cicumstances. How much time do you have to mollycoddle your tomato plants? How big is your space and do you have a sturdy support structure? Perhaps someone has done a study on the pros and cons? Must google it...

What do I do? Something in between. I snip off the tops and side shoots when they get too tall. These I plant in new pots for a later crop.

Return from Planting Tomatoes to Growing Vegetables
Return from Planting Tomatoes to Vegetable Gardening