Lovely tomatoes!Posted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Seasonal Tips
Tomatoes are easy to grow. Any space, from a corner in the smallest patio to the largest, swanky glasshouse can accommodate tomato plants. All they require is a sunny spot and regular watering.
How to sow Tomato seeds
Now is the time to think about sowing Tomatoes. You can, of course, buy Tomato plants in late spring, ready to plant out as soon as the risk of frosts has passed, but Tomatoes are simple to grow from seed – so here’s how. I use 9cm plastic pots, one each different variety that I wish to grow. Fill with good quality seed or multi-purpose compost and then sow a few seeds in each pot: I aim for a ring of five or six seeds and one in the centre (for luck!). Tomato seed is on the small side and therefore quite hard to handle, so a trick I learned many years ago is to use a moist matchstick which you touch gently down onto a seed, lift and place it exactly where you need it to go on the compost. I then push each seed just under the surface and shuffle the compost to ensure the seed is covered. Water the pot when you have sowed all the seeds.
Germinating Tomato seed
In order to ensure successful germination, Tomato seed needs constant warmth. I use my trusty heated propagator, but sealing each pot in a plastic bag and placing it in the airing cupboard or other warm spot in the house works just as well. Germination normally takes place pretty quickly so keep a close eye on the pots and move them to a cooler well-lit place when the first shoots appear. Tiny Tomato plants become ‘leggy’ if left in a warm place – something to avoid if you can.
Young Tomato plants grow surprisingly fast and once they have developed two true leaves, the time has come to pot each plant on so that it has space to grow. Prepare the new pots (7.5cm or similar) and moisten the compost with a gently sprinkling of water; then carefully separate each tiny plant, handling by the leaves - not the stem which is easy crushed – and insert into a narrow hole in the newly-prepared pot. You will find that each plant has developed delicate, white, thread-like roots so make sure that these have room to drop into the hole and ease the compost around them with care.
Varieties of Tomato
Each year, I keep a simple record of how each variety of Tomato that I have grown has performed and I find this invaluable when deciding which varieties to grow the following year. I also aim to try something new – ‘St Pierre’ this year. I prefer varieties which are grown as cordons, rather than as bushes, and can be trained up a cane or string. My tried and trusted favourites are ‘Tigerella’ (a prolific cropper with stripy fruits); ‘Sweet Baby’ (small, sweet, cherry-sized toms); ‘Beefmaster’ (great sliced in salads or crushed for passata); and ‘Black Fudge’ (deep crimson flesh).
Caring for established Tomato plants
The time to plant out Tomatoes is from early May onwards, so more advice on planting and caring for your Tomatoes then.