About 20 years ago my wife and I had a lovely holiday in Malta.
We went on several excersions in the coach and from the high vantage point of a coach window, we could see over the hedges into the fields, many of which were growing bush tomatoes!
Of course the next step was to find a locally grown tomato and take a few seeds home. That was easy because the hotel we were staying at served up tomatoes with nearly every meal – obviously they had plenty of locally grown toms!
They were a large blocky plum type, variety unknown, and as soon as we returned home, I germinated the seeds and planted the seedlings in a grow bag.
By this time the season was well under way – all of the sunny spots in my garden had been taken by other tomato plants and the only spot available was mainly in the shade.
The plants grew into huge bushes of leaves with almost no flowers – that was strange!
Well, I’ve learned a few lessons since then and here is a summary and a few tips along the way, that may come in handy!
- Leaf growth (vegetative) is encouraged with nitrogen
- Flower growth (reproductive) is encouraged by light
These are two fundamental principles when it comes to growing tomatoes.
Here are two questions for you …
- What do you get in a cloudy spring / early summer, especially if the tomato plants are overfed?
- What do you get in a sunny spring / early summer, when the right amount (minimum required) of nitrogen is given?
Answers at the botttom of the page.
There are a number of geographical lessons too …
Tomato varieties grown in sunny climates usually require more light than we get in the UK in order to flower.
If grown in fields season after season, they are used to a lower level nutrient supply than most tomato varieties regularly grown in the UK.
Tips on feeding and weather conditions
When planting in a final position grow bag, large pot etc., the plants get a rush of nitrogen from the new compost. No need to feed at this point – especially if the weather and light conditions are poor.
If light conditions are high, as they have been in the UK these past few days, the sun will initiate a higher number of flower buds – we could be in for a good crop this season!
Feeding tomatoes in hot weather
Plants will need more water than usual, but the same amount of nutrients, over a given period.
If you have to water everyday, it’s a good idea to feed at alternate waterings, but with less food.
So if your brand of tomato food recommends 15ml per week, give 5ml at every other watering. This avoids diluting a once a week feed to almost nothing – if watered with plain water for six days.
Timing when planting in final position
It often happens – plants get a burst of nitrogen, when transplanted into all that lovely new soil, at the crucial period when going into reproductive mode – flowering.
The result is a delay in flowering and fruiting – not serious at all, but for those who aim to have ripe tomatoes as early as possible, getting the timing right is important.
Is there anybody in there?
A greenhouse with a jungle of leaves is easy to achieve – give lots of plant food containing a high dose of nitrogen just before flowering and you could be lost for days!
If you have any “jungle” experiences, please leave them in the comments below.
Have a good week,
Answers to questions above…
- Lots of leaves
- Lots of flowers