Between 15th and 22nd May it’s British Tomato Week and you’ll probably find extra displays of tomato plants and tomato growing products at your local garden centre.

British Tomato Week

What is British Tomato Week? It’s when tomato growers from around the UK promote the value of buying their tomatoes. These tomatoes are grown in glasshouses (large greenhouses) under strict controls for optimum quality and yield etc.

There is a lot to be learnt from their growing methods, including feeding/nutrition and keeping plants healthy, but however good they may be, their tomatoes are still picked days in advance of the table and shelf life has to play a prominent role when they choose which varieties to grow.

Home-Grown Advantage
That’s where the home gardener has the advantage. Being able to pick a tomato and eat it straight from the plant is the ultimate experience in tomato growing and there is no way that a tomato that is days or weeks old (after picking) will taste as good as one that is freshly picked in the warm sun.

Still, I expect their toms taste good when compared to some of the specimens that have travelled half way around the world. Have you seen those cherry tomatoes in the supermarkets in plastic containers that are still partly green!

The Sow-a-long
Today the “Famous Five” are planted into their final pots and will soon be going out around the garden – please check out the video.

It’s best to plant them in their final container after they have started to flower. Being planted into lots of new compost means that there is a “nitrogen rush” which tends to promote a lot of leaf growth.

However, if plants have already started to flower, leaf growth is reduced and flower growth (that’s what we want) continues.

However, when plants are struggling, I’ll plant them into their final position even if they haven’t started to flower – but only if they are struggling and look as if they need a tonic!

Mid-May At Last!
Having reach mid-May, the danger of frost is almost past.
Some of my plants are out now, but they are sheltered from the rain (essential for success and to avoid blight), and if we get a cold night forcast, I’ll cover them with garden fleece.

Foliar Feeding
I’m a big fan of foliar feeding because it’s the quickest way to get nutrients where they are needed.

Different minerals take different amounts of time to get to where they are needed around a plant’s system and calcium is a very slow mover – hence the tendency for Blossom End Rot which is caused by calcium deficiency. Foliar feeding overcomes this issue.

Nitrogen on the other hand is a quick mover and will turn your tomato plants into a leafy jungle in no time – hence the need to plant into a large amount of new compost after the plants have started to flower!

If you decide to foliar feed, check that your plant food allows it – some brands are for use as a root feed only. Also, check that your plant food contains calcium – surprisingly not all tomato food does!

If you grow medium and large varieties in containers, I recommend that you use Chempak Calcium as an addition feed.

Please do contact me if you have a question at the email address below or leave a comment.

Best wishes,
Nick

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12 Responses

  1. Yong
    | Reply

    Great lover of your blog, several your blogposts have seriously helped me out. Looking towards posts!

  2. Emma
    | Reply

    Where is the facebook like button ?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Emma,
      I’ve been thinking about adding a facebook like button – I’ll do it tomorrow!
      Regards,
      Nick

  3. Andy
    | Reply

    Hi Nick I’ve not used the chempak as not had chance yet, However I’ve just noticed that on a few of them the leaves are turning white and shriverling up and others the odd spots of white, what do I need to do?
    Andy

  4. roy hawker
    | Reply

    thanks,nick for all the great info i am in the high peaks we had a bad frost last week toms in the tunnel ok had fleece over them just coming into flower now cant wait for a good british tomatoe hope you have good luck with yours kind regards roy

  5. Phil
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    I have been reading lately about the use of Epsom salts as a foliar for toms with magnesium deficiency. . What is your take on this? An can Epsom salts be used as a replacement for Chempak?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Philip,
      I use Vitax Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) along with Chempak Calcium, both as a foliar feed on all of my tomato plants – especially the medium and large varieties.
      Magnesium and calcium are of course two different minerals but both essential for a healthy crop.
      Best wishes,
      Nick

      • Phil
        | Reply

        Many thanks Nick. Do you alternate the foliar feeding days between the two? And what about watering? Can I water with both (as well as using tomorite)?

  6. Mark
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    I suffered Blossom End Rot last year on Marmande tomatoes. I am growing them again this year and have purchased Chempak in anticipation of it happening again. I planted the tomato seeds back in Feburary in a heated greenhouse. The plants are now (mid chest) high and have lots of flowers. Should I spray with Chempak now oe wait until the tomatoes develop. Lastly, as all my plants are in the greenhouse and close together, will the Chempack affect other plants that dont suffer from BER. Thanks

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mark,
      I use Chempak Calcium as a foliar spray as soon as the first flowers set fruit. It also contains nitrogen so I wait until the plants are in the fruit growing stage otherwise it may encourage leaf growth if given too soon.
      It shouldn’t have a negative effect on other plants if they receive a small amount.
      Best wishes,
      Nick

  7. Andy
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    Excellent as always. We’re getting very excited now although we’ve grown far too many plants I think everybody in the street will be growing tomatoes.
    Anyway, I guess now we can now leave them outside but do we need any fleecy covering? Also Chempak calcium, does that mean that we should stop with the sea weed now? Andy

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Andy,
      Outside is now ok, but fleece them overnight if the forcast is for a night temperature below 7C.
      Chempak Calcium is best given on a weekly basis when the flowers begin to set fruit.
      You can still give them a foliar feed with the seaweed once a fortnight or add a drop in the water when misting to help flowers set.
      Sounds like you won’t have anyone in the street to give your tomatoes to – they’ll all have plenty themselves!
      Cheers,
      Nick

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