Autumn has definitely arrived where I live – I nearly had to put the central heating on the other day!

Now that we’ve reached September, and the tomato growing season will soon be coming to an end, you’ve probably got a lot of tomatoes that are still green and you’re hoping, like me, that they’ll soon ripen!

Feed Twice As Often
When the temperature drops in the Autumn, plants absorb less moisture, and with it, less tomato food.

It’s possible to increase feeding without damaging your plants (they’ll soon be finished anyway!) by feeding twice as often as recommended on the packet. A couple of weeks of over-feeding will do no harm now that plants are mature and the extra potash will help toms to ripen.

Large Varieties – The Biggest Challenge!
Growing large, beefsteak tomatoes outdoors is probably the biggest challenge in tomato growing.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Large varieties usually take longer to mature.
  • They need more nutrients to grow properly – especially calcium to avoid blossom end rot.
  • They are exposed longer to attack from diseases and pests before they mature.
  • Most large varieties originate from warm areas of the world that have long growing seasons.
  • A poor summer is likely to have a negative effect on yield and sometimes you’ll be lucky to grow more than a dozen toms from one plant – and many of these will be smaller than expected.

It is better to stop tall plants at three trusses on large varieties when growing outdoors to help encourage the growth of tomatoes.

If growing in a greenhouse, the situation is much improved and you’ll stand a better chance of success with large varieties – or any variety for that matter!

Oregon Spring TomatoesThe best large variety for growing outdoors that I’ve grown has been Oregon Spring (left) – a large bush plant.

This tomato was bred for growing outdoors and sets fruit easily and early – an important consideration after the late arrival of flying insects this season in my area.

So, planning which tomatoes to grow next season, I have a preliminary list of:

  • Oregon Spring – large bush
  • Stupice – medium tall
  • Red Alert – cherry bush

Each one of the above is very early, and this season at least, has excellent taste.

Of course I’ll be growing lots of other varieties too, but these are the ones I shall sow in February and get off to an early start!

Sowing Early

  • Getting off to an early start has its down-side.
  • Plants may become leggy owing to a lack of light
  • They need to be kept indoors until after the last frost
  • A combination of condensation and cold temperatures with cause fungal problems and you’ll have to sow again.

Still, if you are a keen tomato grower, you may decide that all the extra effort is worth it – you could be eating your own tomatoes by the middle of June!

Online Gardening Course
If anyone is interested in online gardening courses, here’s a new website that has just sprung up called “My Gardening School“.
It’s got lots of courses including an introduction to vegetable growing and looks pretty good – it’s not cheap though!

That’s it for another week … please leave a comment below if you would like to.


12 Responses

  1. Tony
    | Reply

    Thanks for your newsletters Nick-informative and in a language a beginner such as myself can understand. I grew a few Red alert plants from seed this year-on the south coast and was pleased with the results. However I found that allthough they are bush type they needed support from canes. Will definately do again.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Tony,
      Red Alert plants do need some support otherwise the stems split. I’ve tried growing them within a small cage of wire netting but stability is a problem when the toms become heavy.

  2. jim keenan
    | Reply

    Hi Nick
    My Toms have been very hard after i have picked them off the trust have i been doing something wrong while growing them

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jim,
      This has been a problem that many gardeners have had this season – and I’m not sure why!
      I believe it must have someting to do with weather conditions but I haven’t yet worked out the answer.
      As soon as I get some information about the problem, I’ll let everybody know.
      Best wishes,

  3. andrew littleford
    | Reply

    The use of seaweed, extracts as a solution, will greatly improve the growth of your tomatoe plants. This is especially tue if used as a foliar feed as you apply xx

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Andrew,
      That’s a good tip … liquid seaweed extract is very good for seedlings and small plants too and helps build their resistance against disease.

  4. johann
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,

    Thank you for a great news letter. Next season I will be trying to grow the large veriety again and this time gut the plant to make sure I get the proper tomatoes. You say that the larger tomatoes need more nutrients especially calcium. Would I add that along with the general feed that I use, at the same time? or at a different day. And would I need to feed the plants just as often?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Johann,
      Feed at roots as normal with tomato food, but also foliar spray with Chempak Calcium weekly, starting when the flowers begin to set fruit. I also recommend a weekly spray of magnesium (epsom salts) too on the larger varieties.
      It’s best not to feed the calcium and magnesium through the roots – it can easily create a nutrient imbalance in the soil and one nutrient can block another. I always add the extras by spraying the leaves on a different day for each nutrient.

  5. Anthony Priestley
    | Reply

    Nick,I have been reading your Emails every week for the past few months,and found
    them very interesting and informative.The emails have been saved for my reference next
    year.Many thanks & Kind Regards,Anthony.(West Yorkshire).

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Anthony,
      I’m pleased that you have found the newsletters helpful.
      Best wishes,

  6. George
    | Reply

    When can i order my outside tomatoes plants from you,? Would you kindly email me a list of what you grow? STUPICE are the ones i would like to have ago at!

    A Novice ~ George Brooks.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi George,
      I don’t actually sell plants myself, but advertise other companies seeds and plants on my website.
      Some varieties are difficult to find as small plants, so you may have to grow varieties like Stupice from seed.
      I got my Stupice seeds from they have a good selection of unusual varieties.

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