Saturday, 8 June 2013

Grow your own tomatoes

Growing your own tomatoes is simple – just a couple of plants will reward you with plenty of sweet-tasting tomatoes in the summer. There are all kinds of tomatoes to try – from the tiniest cherry types that are favourites with children, through to full-flavoured giant beefsteak tomatoes. And tomatoes come in all kinds of colours too – red, of course, but also green and orange, even purple tomatoes or striped tomatoes. Tomato plants can be cordon varieties that need staking and tying in, bush varieties, and there are even tomato plants designed to grow in hanging baskets. 

Tomatoes are very easy to grow from seed. Start them off indoors, using a propagator or place the pots in a plastic bag and keep on the windowsill. You can sow seed from late March to early April if you will be growing the plants outdoors.

The young seedlings need to be kept at 18C (64F). Sow either in seed trays or small pots and transplant into 7.5-9cm (3-3.5in) pots when two true leaves have formed.

Transfer to 23cm (9in) pots, growing bags or plant 45-60cm (18-24in) apart outside when the flowers of the first truss are beginning to open; plants for growing outdoors should be hardened off first.

Tie the main stem to a vertical bamboo cane or wind it up a well-anchored but slack sturdy string. Those grown as bush or hanging basket types do not need support.

Remove the side shoots regularly when they are about 2.5cm (1in) long. Those grown as bush or hanging basket types do not need to have side shoots removed.

Cut off the top of plants, certainly of outdoor ones, when six trusses of fruit set - this helps to focus the plant's energies.

Water little and often, this will encourage steady grow and help to avoid split fruit. Feed every 10-14 days with a balanced liquid fertiliser, changing to a high potash one once the first fruits start to set.

No comments:

Post a Comment