Growing Tall Varieties
Tall varieties are also known as “cordon” meaning single stem, and “indeterminate” meaning they grow to an indeterminate height.

There are advantages and disadvantages in growing tall varieties and they are as follows:


  • Produce fruit over a longer period
  • There are many more varieties from which to choose
  • The fruit is off the ground and away from damage
  • Perfect for grow bags
  • Will grow up against a sunny wall or fence


  • Side shoots (suckers) need to be removed
  • Once planted in their final position, they are difficult to move around the garden
  • They need support

Traditionally, the tall varieties have been the most popular and widely grown, however, bush varieties have come into their own because they can be grown in containers including hanging baskets.

I think it is the idea of ripe tomatoes cascading down over the sides of a hanging basket that has made bush varieties more popular than they were, but you need to have the right varieties to make that happen. Also, if you plant too many plants into a hanging basket, you may end up with a poor crop.

Final Position
As we come to the point in the season where our plants will shortly be planted into their final position, it is good to remember that one well grown plant with plenty of room, will produce more tomatoes than two plants that are struggling.

Each season there comes a point where I have too many plants left over so I usually plant too many in one container etc. However, I’ve managed to avoid doing the same this season – so far!

Yesterday I planted four tall varieties into two grow bags – two Black Cherry’s and two Gardener’s Delight’s.

Two tall varieties sunk into a grow bag – the middle pot is for water.

These plants have been left out in the greenhouse for nearly a week, so they should be able to cope but try to shelter them from rain if possible.

I’m taking a bit of a chance that there won’t be another frost, but if there is, I shall cover them with garden fleece before bedtime. Have you noticed that tomato plants point their leaf branches upwards at night?

Tomato plants love diffused sunlight so garden fleece is great for both hot and cold weather!

Grow Pots
Using grow pots is perfect for grow bags as the food and water can be given separately. However, another method is to plant – still in their pots – directly into the grow bags and have an empty pot for watering.

The roots grow out through the bottom of the pots and into the grow bags. The food is given around the base iof the stems. I should say that this is not quite as good as grow pots, but if you have a lot of plants, it is the next best thing.

Blossom End Rot
Cherry varieties are very rarely affected by Blossom End Rot, however, medium and large varieties are.

In order to avoid this problem (i’ve said this in previous newsletters) foliar spray them with Chempak Calcium – it really does work!

New Soil/Compost
Tomato plants should always be planted in new soil/compost and not garden borders which are full of bugs and disease.

Of course people grow tomatoes on allotments using soil that has been there for years, but the ground has to be prepared correctly for a crop to be successful.

Latest on the Sow-a-long – aka “The Famous Five”

That’s it for this week, if you made a comment over the past few weeks and I didn’t respond, please accept my appologies … I’ve had problems receiving comments but I hope the problem is now fixed.

For all important questions, please email me at:
[email protected]


10 Responses

  1. wagz
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    I started a TOMATO Tumbler F1 Hybrid from seeds. A cherry variety. All the seeds took hold. However several plants in 3 different containers are growing exceptionaly tall, like
    20 -24 inches. I had planed to use these in a topsy turvey planter(upside down). Any suggestions. It is to soon to move outside (frost Canada, Sk.)
    All the other seeds and varieties started same day are normal I think, 5- 14 inches.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi, it is unusual for Tumbler to become leggy but it can happen if they don’t get enough light (maybe kept too close together) and are too warm and maybe over-watered slightly.
      I would replant into bigger pots and sink them lower down into the soil, removing a leaf or two from the bottom of the plants.
      It’s amazing how very slightly different conditions can have such an effect on the plants. Just before they can be left out overnight is a difficult time because so many plants are competing for the best position on the windowsill.
      Best wishes,

  2. Mark
    | Reply

    “diffused sunlight”…………………..

    I just wish I knew what it meant :o/

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Mark,
      Diffused sunlight can be created by partly shading plants using garden fleece. It’s good in hot weather as well as cold weather.

  3. Avril
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I am thinking ahead at the moment, but when my tomato plants go to their final pots outside in the greenhouse, I am thinking about how to water and feed them. I know you water your tomato plants from below, I am wondering also if you give tomato feed from below as well. I am growing tall varieties ( sweet million and gardeners delight). Should I have them in trays etc. for the watering/feeding and always water/feed from below? Your advice would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Avril,
      Watering from below is mainly for seeds and seedlings when using fine compost.
      Watering from above is ok for mutli-purpose or grow bag compost.

      It’s a good idea to grow tall varieties in grow bags and to feed around the base of the stems and water using a pot in inserted into the middle of the grow bag. You will find a pic here:

  4. james cowell
    | Reply

    i am growing shirley f1 and gardeners delight and all are looking very healthy. A neighbour let me try her piccolas which were probably one of the best tomatoes i’d ever tasted. She gave me two small plants but said she was uncertain outbout their final outcome as she had taken the seed from her own tomatoes. At the moment they are about two foot high ( not quite as tall as the other two varieties ) but they look healthy. Whats the chance of me getting tomatoes of them. I had never heard of piccolas before. Have you any information about them as if possibly i would like to put them permanently on my list as the taste is magnificent

  5. roy hawker
    | Reply

    hi nick every thing is doing very well so far we had a very bad frost on weds night i hope its the last one frogs and newts all doing very well

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Roy,
      We’re nearly frost-free.
      It will be a great relief to be able to leave the plants outside at last!

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