Growing Your Own Tomatoes!
Many of us gardeners enjoy growing a few of own vegetables and one of the easiest and most rewarding has to be the tomato plant. For some the difficult part is choosing a variety. Your selection will depend on growth habit, fruit size and its culinary use.
Bush or ‘determinate’ varieties are more compact, easier to grow, ideal for a small garden or limited space, a patio and some varieties are even suitable for growing in a hanging basket. Tumbler, Tumbling Tom Red or Yellow are superb trailing varieties with small fruit for hanging baskets and you only need one plant per pot filled with multipurpose compost.
Upright bush varieties such as F1 Totem and Red Alert are perfect for a patio containers in a sunny position because they have a dwarf compact habit, these two varieties produce an abundance of medium sized tasty tomatoes.
The eventual height of bush tomatoes are naturally determined depending on the variety and once they have reached their determined height they will set all their fruit over a period of a few weeks. They don’t need as much support as cordon varieties because they are generally smaller and they don’t need side shoots removing, but may need support once full of fruit.
Cordon or ‘indeterminate’ varieties like Shirley, Moneymaker and Gardener’s Delight grow much taller, more unruly and set their fruit on long vines continually throughout the growing season until autumn. As they grow they need tying to a support or framework, their side shoots need removing whenever they appear. A side shoot is a little leafy shoot that grows between the plant’s main stem and a leaf stem, best to pinch these off regularly when you see them.
Watering should be regular so that the compost is kept moist, feed with a well balanced fertiliser until the fruit set followed by a high potash tomato feed, watch out for a condition called blossom end rot, this is can be caused by irregular watering stopping the plant taking up calcium from the soil or a lack of calcium in the soil; this can be easily remedied. Companion planting with french marigolds next to your tomatoes is supposed to repel aphids and white flies from your tomato plants.