Tomato growing in the UK on a commercial scale has always fascinated me. To spend all day among the tomato plants would be a great pleasure for many of us I would think.

Among the places where tomatoes are grown in the UK include: Evesham Vale Growers in Worcestershire, Clyde Valley Tomatoes in Scotland and Cornerways Nursery in Norfolk which is the biggest tomato glasshouse in the UK.

Here’s a video about the way they grow their tomatoes.

 

Taking tips from the professional growers
Even though they are growing tomatoes on a massive scale and using the latest technology and recycling methods, there are always a few tips that can be had for those who grow in more modest circumstances – like us!

Pollinating Flowers
When growing in a greenhouse, it’s good to use some artificial methods of pollination. These include the electric toothbrush and a very soft artist’s brush pushed gently into the centre cone of the flower – the anther cone.

Pruning Trusses
Did you notice that the trusses that were picked in the video had the same number of tomatoes on them. When growing medium and large varieties it is standard practice to remove excess flowers (once the flowers you want to keep have set fruit) so that the six or so tomatoes will grow to a consistent size and mature sooner.

They also do this because the supermarkets want the same number of tomatoes in each packet!

Carbon Dioxide
The easiest way to produce carbon dioxide is to breathe on leaves, or better still, if growing in a greenhouse or tunnel, brew home made wine and beer. The fermentation process gives off carbon dioxide – the alcohol also lifts the spirits!

When it rains it pours!
Tomato plants don’t like wet leaves – for too long anyway.

Fungal Disease
Wet leaves make plants more vulnerable to fungal diseases because many fungal spores, especially blight spores, cannot attack a dry leaf.

Respiration is reduced
Saturated soil for several days means that plant root go without oxygen and respiration is reduced.

Friendly bacteria are affected
Friendly microbes in the soil also require oxygen.

Transpiration is reduced
Wet leaves cannot release moisture when the air humidity is greater than the moisture in the leaves. This means that if they are covered in rain, plants are unable to draw up nutrients from the soil too.

Removing lower leaves to allow plenty of air circulation around the base of plants is important. Unless you have a heated greenhouse, keep enclosed areas well aerated.

Vertical Veg Video
About three weeks ago Mark Ridsdill Smith from “Vertical Veg” made a few videos with me about growing tomatoes.

Here’s a link to the first video which hopefully you’ll find interesting and if you watch it to the end, amusing!

Regards,

Nick

 

 

Tall plants are called cordon or indeterminate. These require their side shoots removed. The reason why side shoots are removed is to focus all the plants energy and growth into one main stem and the trusses that grow from it.

Sometimes a side shoot is allowed to grow in order to make a second main stem – if the season is long enough.

Bush plants are also called determinate and don’t require the removal of their side shoots.

Instead of trusses, bush tomato plants have flower clusters that grow at the end of branches. These are allowed to grow without pruning.

Some plants have semi-determinate growth habits and show characteristics of bush and tall varieties. These can be grown as a bush or a tall variety – it’s up to the gardener.

 

22 Responses

  1. rinoto
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, i like your tometos garden, look amazing, I plant tometos in my garden too, but the result didn’t same with your tometos. Please give me some advise

  2. rinoto
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, i like tometos, I wish my tometo to be like that, but I don’t know how, please give me some advice

  3. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Harvested first tomato of the season today – Maskotka. 17 weeks and 1 day after sowing in early February. 120 days exactly.

    Hope the next 5 weeks is perfect for fruit setting on all the other plants!!

    Keep up the good work Nick.

  4. terry scoates
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, Thank you very much for your prompt reply to my query re non-flowering Gardeners Delight.
    Much obliged from terry

  5. Terry
    | Reply

    Hi Nick, I am growing Sungold and Gardeners Delight in the Greenhouse this year, but although
    the Sungold are doing well and have fruit on them, The Gardeners Delight are about two foot tall and there are no sign of any flowers on them as yet, What do you think the problem is with the Gardeners Delight?,
    The Sungold and Gardeners Delight are in separate Greenhouses.
    Many Thanks from terry

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Terry,
      It sometimes happens that indeterminates are late to develop trusses – usually when the timing of planting into new compost has meant that they have received a burst of nitrogen at the wrong time. Too much “N” tends to deley flowering. Low light levels can also delay trusses and flowers but you should see a few flower buds at the growing tip soon!
      Cheers,
      Nick

  6. stephen clark
    | Reply

    hi Nick,
    upon looking at my plants today all have this tops curled downwards into a tight ball and looks like stunted growth, i have read up and many sites are saying over feeding, does this mean these will not recover or is there anythink i can do to rescue them

    thanks

    Steve

    • stephen clark
      | Reply

      thanks Nick

    • stephen clark
      | Reply

      i forgot to mention this happened a few hours after removing the lower branches so i guess the plant went into stress, will they recover

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Steve,
      I don’t think it’s over feeding, it’s probably stress as temperatures are very up and down at the moment and plants haven’t got into a routine with their water uptake as they continue to establish their root systems.
      Give it another couple of weeks and curled leaf branches and leaves will start to look a lot better and less stressed.
      Over feeding can cause stress by the fact that roots can be damaged but it is often accompanied by wilting. As nutrient salts build up in the soil, plants find it difficult to absorb moisture fast enough (osmosis slows) in sunny weather so they often wilt.
      Cheers,
      Nick

      • stephen clark
        | Reply

        thank you Nick ill keep an eye on them, ill take a photo and send soon

        • stephen clark
          | Reply

          Hi Nick,
          After flushing 2 growbags i discovered something interesting which may be causing the stress on the plants, on these hozelock water systems if you like me filled it to the max with water there is about 10% of the growbag permanently underwater thus sodden the roots permanently and not what these are designed for.
          I worked out to keep the growbag out of the water to only fill to the half way point.

          I might be barking up the wrong tree but part of the growbag permanently under water can not be good for the plants.

          2 bags have been flushed, the rest of my hozelock water systems am simply going to remove half the water and see how it goes.

          but for sure i will be emailing hozelock for them to comment on my findings

          Thanks Nick

          steve

  7. sonny
    | Reply

    hi Nick
    thanks for the video. and the info you give us. as this is my first year i got few things going on probably too many lol, but i got a link of what im doing with some pics i hope with the info on here i can improve for next year. thanks.

    http://s19.photobucket.com/user/roxibeau/library/greenhouse

    P.S im 2 mins away from clyde valley you mentioned thats where i get all my things from.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Sonny,
      Looks like you’ve got a good set-up there – and the plants look healthy too!
      Nick

  8. stephen clark
    | Reply

    hi nick,
    when removing lower leaf branches upto the first truss, is this done at the yellow flower stage or wait until actual fruit appear

    thanks

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Steve,
      I prefer to wait until the flowers begin to set before I remove all the branches directly below the first truss – as long as they are healthy, otherwise I would remove them.
      Nick

  9. John Bowtell
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    Thanks for keeping all of us keen amateurs on track. I have learned so much from you. Just one thing though, can you tell us how to achieve a blight-free Summer.

    John

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi John,
      I’m pleased that you have found the website helpful!

      The biggest tip is to keep leaves dry but that’s impossible if you grow outside.
      Other measures include choose blight tolerant varieties.
      Remove lower leaf branches and keep plenty of air movement around the base of stems.
      Remove dodgy looking leaves asap.
      I’ve found that aspirin has protected my plants, to a degree, in this recent wet period. How affective it will be against blight later in the season … we’ll wait and see.
      I’ll think of a few more ways to protect plants and put it on the main website.
      Nick

  10. David King
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I very much enjoyed the BBC video on growing tomatoes in the biggest greenhouse in the UK. I once worked in a greenhouse on a small holding in Ipswich.

    I can only grow a few plants in the greenhouse on the allotment so I found the video very interesting! I also grow a few plants on my balcony at home. I’m growing a few ‘Gardener’s Delight’ this year.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi David,
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the video … it’s amazing how many plants they have in that greenhouse!
      I’m growing Gardener’s Delight in the sow along – they’re great plants with a very good taste and yield but I’m sure you already know that.
      Nick

  11. Trevor Coombe
    | Reply

    Hi Nick.
    Don’t know what I’ve done wrong this year but all my plants are very stunted and have very dark purple leaves. Even the roots have a purple tinge.
    Any tips on how to rescue them?
    Thanks.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Trevor,
      It’s phosphorus deficiency but giving more “P” may only be counter productive.

      If you’ve been feeding them, give them a week off and flush with tepid water with wetting agent in – a pint of soapy water from the washing up bowl in a 2 gallon watering can will do the trick.
      Keep leaves dry if possible and give them a foliar tonic in a few days time such as liquid seaweed.
      You won’t see a change in the leaves for 7 to 10 days but they will improve.
      Nick

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