Firstly, apologies for not responding properly if you sent me a question this past week. My wife and I have just returned home from a week away in Dorset where we had a very poor internet signal but a very good holiday!

Holiday Watering System
I spent the week leading up to the holiday sorting out the automatic watering system which took a lot longer to put together than I had expected. It did work as planned (unlike last year!) and all of the plants are fine.

If you are going away on holiday I can recommend the Hozelock AC1 timer because it worked well. It’s setting up the watering kit of tubes, drippers and connections that’s tricky.

I’ve tried both an expensive and a cheap watering kit and I haven’t found much difference between the two – just make sure that the connections are secure. Dipping the ends of the tubes in hot water (from the kettle) makes it easier to connect the drippers etc.

The Tomato Race
Some weeks ago, in a previous newsletter, I mentioned about growing three extra early varieties (sown at the same time) to see which one would be the first to mature.

The three varieties were Stupice, Latah and Red Alert and I can report that Red Alert is ahead of the others at this stage. I am already picking ripe tomatoes from an earlier sowing of Red Alert from plants that were sown in February.

About Red Alert
This variety produces a very good crop of good size cherry toms – if grown in a large pot or container – and the flavour is excellent. However, it is more difficult to grow, especially when sown early in the season, as it easily becomes “leggy” and behaves a bit like a tall variety.

Tomato Red Alert

It’s not until it gets planted in its final position and it begins to bush-out that it starts to act like a bush variety.

Red Alert also sets fruit (pollinates) easily which is one of the reasons why it is so early. I’ll post some photos here tomorrow.

The Five Tumbling Toms
The famous five have all received the same treatment while I’ve been away. It was also a holiday for Brian who got some sun!

They are all beginning to set fruit but it has taken longer this season for the first pea-like toms to appear than in most previous seasons. I’ve been helping the flowers to set manually (see last weeks newsletter – Good Vibrations).

Are My Beefsteaks Deformed?
Large tomatoes grow in segments a bit like an orange. Each segment has to be fertilised separately, and at the same time, for the tomato to grow evenly.

Sometimes one segment grows faster, or is fertilised sooner, than the others and the tomato looks deformed as it grows. This is quite common and the tom should even-out to its proper shape just before maturity.

However, if one or more of the segments have failed to pollinate, the tomato will end up a peculiar shape – still edible though.

Dorset has fantastic fresh seafood and a great variety of pasties – both of which went down very well with a pint of the local brew – but I’m glad to be back home with my tomato plants!

Regards,
Nick

nick@tomatogrowing.co.uk

10 Responses

  1. robert scott
    | Reply

    My Moneymakers are growing well,with plenty of trusses and quite a lot of fruit but the tops of the plants are starting to turn downwards. I dont know why. ” can you help” ?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Bob,
      This is probably caused by stress – don’t over water but spray/mist them morning or evening and give them a foliar feed with miracle grow or similar. They should resume normal growth in a week or two when they get used to the up and down weather temperatures.
      Regards,
      Nick

  2. Andy
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    Thanks for all of your advise over the last few months and glad to hear you had a good holiday.
    I’m pleased to announce we have 3 little tomatoes, whoppee! However I did grow far too many and have given them away and have had to be ruthless and compost the weaker ones.
    Anyway now the toms are coming should I fire in the tomato food every week and what about the ones with flowers, should I feed them or not?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Andy,
      It’s always great to see those little tomatoes when the flowers set!
      I feed with tomato food as soon as the toms show.
      I try to resist feeding the plants next door to them with tomato food until they start to set fruit otherwise they may stay in flower longer before they set fruit – but sometimes I give them a drop!
      Cheers,
      Nick

  3. stephen clark
    | Reply

    hi Nick hope you are well,
    up here in north shields all my tomato plants have planty flowers but little signs of fruit as yet prob due to the constant dark skies and wet weather, ive noticed my red alerts are not growing too good and hardly any flowers should i give up on these

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Steve, I’m very well thanks.
      The wet, cloudy weather has slowed my plants down a bit too but hopefully we should get some better weather soon.
      I would keep the Red Alerts going for a bit longer because they really grow quickly in good conditions. Just try to keep them dry if possible.
      Regards,
      Nick

  4. KEVIN POTTS
    | Reply

    HI NICK IS IT OK TO USE WIRE COATED WITH PLASTIC AS TIES
    THANK YOU.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Kevin, It should be fine as long as there is not too much weight on the wire if it is very thin.
      Cheers,
      Nick

  5. Kim Kelly
    | Reply

    All of my tomatoes have lots of green leaves but no flowers, how can I change this and indeed what have I been doing wrong. They look really healthy.
    In anticipation Help

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Kim,
      Some varieties take longer than others to produce flowers, especially some of the tall, large varieties.
      Also, it is best not to feed your plants at this stage, as too much nitrogen may be preventing your plants from developing flowers. Your plants should show signs of very small flower buds at the growing tip soon.
      Regards,
      Nick

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