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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.