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Our guide to growing your best tomatoes

There are many types of tomatoes to choose from, which vary from cherry to giant beefsteak varieties, with yellow to red to purple and almost black skins with round, flattened or elongated shapes.

Tomatoes can be grown under cover, outdoors and even in hanging baskets or window boxes. Those grown in greenhouses or conservatories or even in a porch will fruit earlier and longer than those grown outdoors. Ideally an open sunny, sheltered site is ideal. A fertile soil is required, so a specific growbag compost is best.

Tomatoes are sensitive to frost so can only be planted out once all risk of frost has passed.

Plant out young plants when they are around 6-9” tall spacing them 18” apart. If using a growbag three plants to one growbag is the ideal ratio.

If you have a heated greenhouse you can plant them from beginning of April, but if outdoors, then it's best to leave until mid-spring to even early summer.

Bush-type tomatoes need to be trained up canes and tied in using string as they grow. Trailing types can obviously be allowed to fall and do their own thing in the container of your choice.

Tomatoes are thirsty and hungry plants and so it's important to keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid any fluctuations in wet and dry as this can result in the fruit splitting and also a condition called ‘blossom end rot’ where the bottom part of the fruit becomes blackened.

Feeding regularly using a tomato feed is also important. The bush-type tomatoes will need to be tied in regularly and their side shoots snapping away. This will then allow the plant to concentrate its energy on the fruit that is produced from the main stem. Also remove any lower leaves that start to yellow. This helps prevent possible problems of blight.

If growing indoors it is possible to get problems with aphids and red spider mite. Use sticky yellow traps and keep well ventilated on warm days. There are also biological controls, such as a parasitic wasp that eats the aphids. It is also thought that growing Marigolds alongside Tomatoes helps to deter the aphid.

Pick the fruit when fully ripened but don’t leave them to over ripen on the plant as they may well split. Towards the end of the season plants are likely to leave green fruits. These can be picked and ripened on a sunny windowsill.

Adrian, Nursery Manager

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