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.
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.
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!
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.
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.