Welcome to the First
Tomato Growing Newsletter of 2017!
After last season’s break, owing to a house move and relocation, the Newsletter is back each Saturday with lots of tips and suggestions for a successful summer of tomato growing!
It’s always great to hear from you with your suggestions and tips. Many of you are experienced tomato growers, so please leave comments below or join the Facebook Group here. After you click “Join” you will be approved within 12 hours.
The first few weeks will be mainly about getting started, especially for those who are new to growing tomatoes.
A Few Recommended Varieties For This Season
The easiest to grow and usually the sweetest tomatoes are the cherry varieties.
Tall Cherry Varieties
Two varieties that have been around for a while are Black Cherry and more recently Sweet Aperitif.
They have been crossed to produce the new variety called Black Opal – a tomato I shall be growing this season – available here.
Bush Cherry Varieties
Red Alert has been around for some time and produces a very early crop of cherry tomatoes. Maskotka and Tumbler are similar.
It has often been stated on the back of seed packets that Red Alert is so early it matures before it can catch blight.
One siimilar tomato variety that is truly blight resistant is Lizzano available here.
Most larger size tomatoes are grown on tall plants – also called Cordon or Indeterminate. One such tom is Crimson Crush. It is a new variety that is blight resistant and I highly recommend it – especially if you intend to grow outdoors in a UK summer!
It’s usually best to choose a vigorous plant when growing medium and large varieties because it takes more energy for a plant to produce larger tomatoes!
Hybrid F1’s produce vigorous growth and among these are: Big Daddy, Big Boy and Brandy Boy which is an improved Brandywine.
Timing – When To Sow
Perhaps the most important tip for this end of the season is not to sow too soon.
If you are an experienced tomato grower (with lights!), sowing in February is fine, but without grow lights, it’s best to sow from the middle of March to the middle of April in the UK. This helps prevent seedlings from becoming leggy, by sowing when days are longer and brighter (hopefully!).
Leggy seedlings will grow into leggy plants that produce fewer tomatoes. Trenching, a technique for burying leggy stem and gaining more root growth, is no substitute for a well grown plant.
The Goldfish Syndrome
If you have ever had an over fed goldfish, where each member of the family feeds it as they pass by the bowl, you will empathise with the seedlings that get over watered!
Over watering seedlings reduces root growth and increases the chances of damping-off which is a fungal disease that can wipe out a whole tray of seedlings overnight. Heavy wet soil also makes it much harder to transplant seedlings with their roots intact.
Varieties & Containers
Part of being successful is choosing the right variety for the right container.
You wouldn’t grow a Gardener’s Delight (tall variety) in a hanging basket (unless you don’t mind climbing a ladder to pick your tomatoes!), or grow a trailing variety such as Tumbling Tom in a grow bag where the branches and fruit rest on the ground for the
slugs and snails to eat.
Here’s a good rule of thumb:
Tall varieties in grow bags and large pots …
Sungold, Gardener’s Delight, Black Cherry, Moneymaker etc.
Trailing varieties in high sided pots/containers and hanging baskets
Tumbler, Tumbling Tom, Hundreds & Thousands etc.
Some bush varieties will grow in a 6 inch pot and are known as Dwarf varieties. These will grow on a sunny windowsill.
The Whole Packet Of Seeds!
A common situation is overcrowding
It’s easy to sow a whole packet of seeds and before you know it, there are 30 to 50 seedlings to take care of.
Too many to put in the windowsill so they go out during the day. Along comes a pidgeon and bites the top off every one!
It’s happen to me on more than one occasion. Much better to sow fewer seeds that can be managed more easily.
Tips from this week’s newsletter:
- Sow from the middle of March to avoid leggy seedlings.
- Resist the temptation to over water seedlings.
- Choose the right variety for the container or area you intend to grow in.
- Remember that seeds grow into big plants and can’t be put outside until after the last frost in your area – around the end of May in the UK.
It can be quite confusing if this is your first season growing tomatoes, so if in doubt, please join and ask questions in the Facebook Group.
Next week we’ll get into more detail with options for sowing media – composts, Jiffy pellets and sponges – propagators etc. and temperatures for germination. Plus a few tips on how to stop your seedlings becoming leggy.
Please leave comments and questions below or on Facebook.
Happy Tomato Growing!
Links to supplies…