Getting ready for a season of tomato growing is an exciting time!
Choosing which varieties to grow, preparing pots (by cleaning and sterilising), and buying new compost and other bits and pieces.
The advantage of being prepared is that you won’t have to make numerous visits to the garden center (although that can be a lot of fun if you have the time) and you will be able to do a particular job exactly when it needs to be done.
Of course, you don’t need everything at once, but below is list of the essentials for getting started.
- Tomato Seeds
- Bag of Compost – Seed or Multi Purpose
- Small Pots, Seed Tray or Propagator (for germination).
- Small Pots (3 inch) for transplanting each seedling into its own pot.
Of course there’s a huge range of bits and pieces that’s very useful and will be required later in the season such as tomato food and containers, but not needed at this stage.
If you have pots and surfaces that may have traces of last season’s soil, remember to wash and sterilise them. It is easy to contaminate new compost with the previous year’s soil.
The easiest and cheapest way to sterilise your equipment is with ordinary household bleach. I dilute it with water and spray it onto my pots etc. with a hand spray/mister after giving them a good scrub with soapy water. I usually rinse my large containers after spraying, with the hose pipe.
New Compost and Grow Bags
It’s best to use new compost for the season’s sowings and container plants. Old compost will probably contain diseases and insects that will harm new tomato plants.
When transplanting seedlings into their first pots, use a pot size of 3inch to 3.5inch for their first home, then after about four or five weeks, pot them up to a 4 or 5inch pot.
A month or so later, they’ll be ready to go into a container, hanging basket or grow bag which should be around the end of May, if you’ve sown at the beginning of March.
Varieties for Success
Choosing which tomato varieties to grow is an important consideration. I go on a lot about bush, cherry varieties because they are the easiest to grow from seeds and you’ll get lots of them too!
Larger tomato varieties usually take longer to grow and the heirloom or heritage types often produce only a modest harvest.
Recommended bush/cherries are:
- Tumbling Tom
- Garden Pearl
- Red Alert (red and yellow)
These cherry tomatoes are always the first toms in the kitchen each season, followed by the medium and larger varieties a little later in the summer. Growing a selection of varieties means that success is more likely, even in a very poor season where larger varieties will be slow to ripen.
I get a huge thrill out of leaving a bag of cherry tomatoes on my neighbours door steps – a bit like the old milk delivery.
Determinate – Indeterminate
Tall, cordon types are also called indeterminate because they grow to an indeterminate height, whereas bush varieties grow to a pre-determined height so they are also called determinate.
I’ll be back next Friday with another newsletter which you can access using the code in the emails you receive from me.
Next week we’ll discuss medium and large varieties and the tall, cordon types. Also, the difference between F1 Hybrids and Open-Pollinated seeds and why the Hybrids are so expensive.
Lots More Tomato Stuff Coming Soon!
Over the next few weeks there will be videos, podcasts and lots of content added to this area of the website, so come back again soon!
The “Sow Along”
The “sow along” will begin in March – that’s the best time for sowing if you are growing outdoors in the UK.
Do contact me if you have any questions.