May plant of the moment
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Delicious home grown tomatoes are such a rewarding crop and just a few plants will produce plenty of fresh, juicy tomatoes all summer. They’re very versatile and you can grow them in ground soil, grow bags, patio containers or hanging baskets, as well as in a greenhouse. So no matter how much space you have there’s a tomato variety to suit you and now is just the right time to plant out young plant.
Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes and in colours from yellow, through red to the mahogany brown of the heritage variety, Black Russian. From small, sweet cherry tomatoes to giant beefsteak tomatoes and everything in between, the key is to choose one for the space you have.
The actual tomato fruits are formed on the flowering side branches - or trusses - of the plants and you can grow tomato plants in two main ways. The first type is trained as one main stem tied to a supporting cane, with side shoots pruned out to concentrate growth on just the main fruiting trusses. These are called indeterminate or cordons. Varieties include Black Russian, Modus, Shirley, Moneymaker, cherry tomatoes Super Sweet 100, Gardener’s Delight or Sunbaby yellow - and the plum tomato, Roma.
Alternatively, you can grow them as bushy plants which need no support or pruning and are excellent for pots or hanging baskets. These are called determinate, bush, or dwarf. Varieties include Tumbling Tom Yellow and Balconi.
You need to water both types daily, so the soil never dries out. ‘Little and often’ should be your mantra. You’ll also need to feed them with a liquid fertiliser every 7-14 days, until fruit starts to develop – and add potash feed to encourage more flowers and fruit. Tomatoes are hungry and thirsty plants that need a lot of energy to produce an abundance of juicy tomatoes.
The bush varieties are quite self-contained and grow happily in a pot or trailing from a hanging basket, as long as you feed and water them regularly. The cordons require more attention as you’ll need to pinch out side shoots and tie them into the support. They also need a bit more space, as they can grow up to 2.5 metres.
Choose a sunny, sheltered spot, close to your water source to make watering as easy as possible.
Regular and consistent watering will prevent many issues with the fruit, such as cracking or splitting. As the plants get bigger, you'll need to water them more.
Planting basil nearby encourages greater fruit production and planting marigolds nearby repels pests.
Make sure you have other flowering plants nearby to attract insects to pollinate your tomato plants and increase fruit production. Try Nepeta Walkers Low or Scabiosa Butterfly Blue.
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