Sunday 20 January 2013


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

Tomatoes are very simple plants to grow, and with a little encouragement can provide fantastic fruits.  Home-grown tomatoes differ entirely in flavour from the shop bought tomatoes, which can be bland and watery.  
The advantage of growing your own tomatoes is that you can select the variety you want, rather than the few varieties on offer in the supermarket. So whether you want tomatoes to cook a pasta sauce with, serve in a salad or to garnish your sandwich, there is a great variety available for you to use.

For tomatoes grown outside try a recommended variety such as 'Gardeners Delight', 'Sungold', 'Money Maker' or 'Sweet 100'.  If you are short of space, dwarf varieties like 'Tumbler' can be grown in a flower pot or hanging basket. For greenhouse tomatoes try trusted varieties such as 'Santa', 'Matador', 'Sungold', 'Money Maker' or 'Supersteak'.

You can grow tomato plants outside successfully from seed, either collected by yourself from tomatoes or using shop bought packet tomato seeds.

To give the best yield of tomato crop during the season you can give your plants a head start by sowing seedlings indoors or in a heated greenhouse around mid march. They will need to be protected from frost, and temperatures at night should not fall below 10 degrees Celsius.

Sow your tomato seeds in seed trays using John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' compost. Space your seeds evenly across the tray and then cover then with the compost to a depth of 2 cm and lightly water.

Place in a well lit place and keep the seeds moist until they germinate, usually between 3 and 5 days. The seedlings will require high levels of light, around 12-16 hours of sunlight a day. A south facing window sill or shelf in glass house is ideal, although they will require the seed tray to be turned round daily to prevent the seedlings from permanently leaning.

Seedlings are at risk from fungal rots due to the damp conditions, so good ventilation is important. Monitor the compost for dryness, adding a little water from below.  Be careful not to over water which can spread water borne fungal diseases such as damping off.

The tomato seedlings are ready to plant out when the risk of frost is over and the young plants when they are about 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) tall and the flowers of the first truss are just beginning to open.

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