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How to grow your own tomatoes


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Difficulty rating: Low

This task should be fairly straightforward regardless of your gardening experience.

When to plant tomatoes:

Tomatoes are a hugely rewarding plant to grow and are packed full of vitamins and minerals. Sow your seeds from the beginning of January to the end of March or plant pre-grown plants between April and the end of June. From late July to October you'll be able to pick and enjoy all the fruits of your labour.

Step 1: Choose from a range of tomato varieties

Plum or cherry, big or beefy – we've all sorts of seeds and plants to suit your taste buds. Make sure you choose the type that’s best suited to where you intend to grow them: taller varieties need additional support, while bush varieties are smaller so are a little easier to look after.

Step 2: Sow your seeds

  • Sow your tomato seeds in a propagator - a seed tray with a clear lid, or put a pot in a plastic bag and place on a windowsill.
  • Do this about 6 weeks before the last frost in your area is forecast.
  • If the last frost has already passed don't worry, we’ve new and fully-grown tomato plants in store for you to plant straight away.
  • This is also the answer if you don't have room to grow seedlings.

Step 3: Transplant your seedlings into pots

When two leaves have formed on your seedlings, transplant them into small pots, be sure to handle them by the leaves and not by the stem.

Step 4: Place your pots in the sun

As tomato plants are sub-tropical they need plenty of sunlight, the ideal place for your pots is in a sheltered position where the seedlings will get as much sun as possible, so a south - facing fence or wall is ideal.

Step 5: Prepare the ground

  • Using a spade, dig a hole approximately 20cm wide and 20cm deep.
  • As fully grown tomato plants can be heavy, it’s important a dig a deep hole to encourage good root growth, you can aid this growth by adding a layer of compost to the bottom of the hole.
  • If you are planting more than one tomato plant, space the holes approximately 60cm apart.

Step 6: Remove your plants from their pots

  • When your seedlings are 15-20cm tall and have developed the first flowered branch (truss) they are ready to be planted.
  • Gently remove the plant from the pot and carefully tease out some of the roots from the root ball before placing it into the centre of the hole.
  • Teasing out the roots will encourage them to grow away from the plant into the surrounding soil.

Step 7: Plant your tomato plants

Place your plant in the hole and fill the rest of the hole with compost, firming the soil around the base of the plant with your hands.

Step 8: Thoroughly water your plants

  • Water the plants after you have planted them and then ensure they’re regularly watered and fed with tomato fertiliser, especially when the first fruit buds appear.
  • Regular watering is the key to successful tomato growing, but don’t overwater as this can cause the roots to rot.

Step 9: Supporting taller tomato plants

  • To prevent plants from breaking and falling on the ground where they can become diseased, place a bamboo cane next to each plant and tie the plants to the canes using nylon garden twine which doesn’t rot, alternatively you can use a tomato cage or small trellis for support.
  • Remove the small shoots that grow between the stem and the main branches when you see them as this will help to produce a flavourful crop, you don’t need to do this on bush varieties.
Top tips:
  • Tomato plants need more and more water as they mature.
  • Planting basil nearby will help to deter aphids and can improve the flavor of your tomatoes.
  • Planting Nasturtiums nearby can also help to attract aphids away from your tomato plants.

How to plant tomatoes
How to harvest tomatoes

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