It’s been a busy but exciting week in my little world of tomato growing.
On Sunday my wife and I visited the Home Grown Expo at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Exhibitors from around the world, including Holland and the USA, showing off their products. Many of these products were nutrient feeds for tomatoes, peppers and of course other vegetables and flowers too!
Some of the nutrients in the show were suitable for soil and coir (shredded coconut husk) as well as for the usual hydroponic growing in rockwool.
From Grow to Flower
Most growers are aware of the different needs that a tomato plant has as it goes from the grow phase – developing stems and leaves, to the reproductive phase – flowering and fruiting.
When feeding tomatoes at home, we can liken this to general/balanced feed before fruiting such as Miracle Grow, then tomato food such as Tomorite when the plants begin to set fruit.
Nutrients Already in Soil
Through the potting stage plants receive new compost each time they are potted on and therefore more balanced feed is available to them in the new compost. Usually, we only begin to feed them when they have used up the nutrients in their final position grow bag or pot – then we feed them tomato food.
This doesn’t have to be the case though … we can give them a general feed when they are fruiting or even a little extra flowering food such as potassium before they start to flower.
The idea is to listen to what your plants are telling you – or perhaps I should say, be able to see what nutrients they need by the colour of their leaves and general appearance.
There are products that enhance the microbes in the soil such as Mycorrhizae Fungi which improves root structure and nutrient uptake. Many large garden centres are selling these products now.
There’s even a microbe available that takes nitrogen from the air for the roots to use – nitrifying bacteria, but you probably won’t find that one at the garden centre at the moment.
Another product that’s been available for a while is a latex spray. It coats the leaves in a very thin layer of latex – the leaves can still breathe – but it makes it more difficult for fungal spores to attack leaves. It could be very helpful against blight!
Watering Down Taste
One of the many tips that I picked up at the show was about watering, soil drainage and taste.
The lady on the chilli stand from Holland mentioned that in order to grow chilli’s so they taste very hot, it’s best to grow them in coir (shredded coconut husk) because it is free draining and doesn’t hold as much water as some soils.
It seems that to enhance the flavour and strength of a chilli, the plant is best under watered. We know that this also applies to tomatoes and that a watery tasting tomato is usually the result of over watering.
By creating a better draining soil (or using coir) we can also enhance the flavour of our tomatoes.
On Tuesday evening a was involved in a webinar with Mark Ridsdill Smith from “Vertical Veg”.
A webinar is a bit like a radio show but on the computer. People can talk together and ask questions by using their computer keyboard or just listen in to the conversation and pick up lots of tips – hopefully!
A regular webinar for next season at “Tomato Growing” is definitely on the cards.
Mention has been made about a problem with the Hozelock Grow Bag Waterer.
It seems that grow bags can sink down into the reservoir slightly if the water level is at its maximum height. The result is saturated soil and plants that are severely over watered.
Our good friend Steve has suggested that canes can be used across the bottom of a grow bag to stop it from sagging down and also, not to fill the water reservoir to the top.
Thanks Steve for suggesting a solution to the problem.
I do have some Yoyo’s available, which are supports for tall tomato varieties, if anyone is interested. They not only support plants but are good for supporting heavy trusses too!