Even today, many people are surprised when they begin Tomato growing, that Tomatoes are a fruit not a vegetable.
This juicy fruit is extremely versatile and can be used in many ways.
Including raw in fresh salads and sandwich preperation, and cooked in soups, pizzas and pasta recipes.
Tomato plants are one of the easiest plants to begin growing and see within a few months an edible crop. We have
put together a few tips to aid in your Tomato growing :-
Growing from seed
When gardeners begin to grow tomatoes, most begin by planting seeds. Whilst this can be the cheapest way to
start, you will have to think ahead, and begin to propogate these seeds early enough in the season, so that the
plants will be developed well enough to produce fruit throughout the season.
Invest in a number of plastic propogators to enable you to start these seeds off quickly. Once the seeds begin
to sprout it will be time to thin them out into their own small pots.
A good root structure is important for developing tomato plants, they grow wonderfully well in composted
material that is not compacted and when planted sufficiently deeply to give plenty of room for the root structure.
Check out our Composting page for tips on how to produce compost material.
Buying nursery reared plants
The amount of space that you have available will determine the number of plants that you will be able to grow,
if you do not have much space, it could be worth buying one or two plants from a nursery that are already up to the
first truss, rather than spend almost as much for seeds that you won't be able to make use of.
We have done this a number of times and one of the benfits is that you can purchase different varities to grow
along side each other, such as Beef tomatoes for use with Beef Burgers and cherry tomatoes for salads.
Once these plants are well established you will need to place them in the location you set apart for them. If
possible choose an internal area that is well ventilated and sunlit throughout the day, with sufficient room to
easily water the plants.
We have used our front porch and our utility room which both have polycarbonate rooves which let in a good deal
of light and are quite hot during the day and not too cold during the night.
I have seen cherry tomato growing well in hanging baskets and this is an excellent use of space. Small varities
can be grown in Garden Containers.
I have found it important to choose a location that I pass every day, as this reminds me to water them and
inspect them sufficiently.
Once these plants grow above the first truss you will need to think about supporting them with some type of
framework, as once the fruit begins to form the stems can easily be bent over by the weight of the growing
It is important to make sure that the stems are not tied to the framework tightly as the stems will grow
significantly over the season. You may need to re-tie these stems several times over the season to give them room
Once the first fruits begin to form it will be time to feed the plants. There are many products available for
feeding tomatoes. As each truss begins to produce fruit, feed the plants again.
This is the time that you will have to watch the plants carefully as tomato plants are very vigorous and
will attempt to become a bush by breaking out fresh branches. These shoots need nipping out quickly, otherwise you
will find many of these new branches springing up.
This can easily be done with the nails of your first finger and thumb, but be aware that you will have clorofil
on your fingers so don't rub your eyes or clothes.
How many trusses?
You will need to deide how many trusses you intend to cultivate on each plant. If you start early enough in the
season 5 or 6 trusses should ripen fruit, otherwise you could well have to artificially ripen fruit at the end of
This will be influenced by the height you have available at the location you have chosen, as 6 trusses could
certainly reach 6 foot.
To extend normal ripening you can lay the plants down on some straw for a week or so to allow further
We have done this by wrapping in newspaper and placing in a drawer with one ripe tomato, you will be amazed how
many tomatoes can be ripened with this simple method. They will last for several weeks and could take that long to
ripen, so don't expect instant results.
External tomato growing
Tomato growing outside is fine for those in warm sunny climates, for the rest of us the plants will need
protecting from wind and storms. Greenhouses are great for tomatoes and produce great results year after year, so
if you have the room I would encourage you to invest in one, if you intend to grow year after year and want to
start them off early.
As tomatoes are easily available and a low cost item it really isn't worth investing in complicated
equipment to aid you in your cultivation,such as lamps and fans, unless you are seeking to grow up to
If you intend to go on holiday for more than a couple of days you will definitely need to arrange for
these plants to be watered, as once producing fruit, tomato plants are very thirsty. On hot days these plants can
begin to wilt in one afternoon if allowed to dry out.
Automatic watering systems can be in-expensive and overcome this problem.
Rain water harvesting
To produce succulent chemical free fruit you will need to collect sufficient rain water to mean that you do not
need to make use of your home water system. A simple way is to divert your rain water from the downpipe into a
water butt, this could be sufficient to water 3 or 4 plants over the season. Check out our Garden Water Conservation page for more tips in this area.
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