Three Top Tips For Success This Season

Start with a variety that is popular and known to grow well in your area.
If you live in Kent, UK, Moneymaker and Gardener’s Delight are safe choices – if you live in Kentucky, USA, Early Girl and Celebrity are long established favourites.

To find out, just Google: “best tomato varieties for my area

Don’t sow too early
Personally, I can’t wait to get started and always sow seeds earlier in the season than I should. Often ending up with plants that aren’t as healthy and vigorous as those sown a little later, when temperatures and light levels are more favourable.

Tomato plants are unable to absorb nutrients at cold temperatures and grow leggy (spindly) when light levels are too low.

Eight to ten weeks before the estimated last frost in your area is a good time to sow seeds.

Avoid problems rather than treat them – prevention rather than cure
Tomato Plants Don’t Like Rain – unless it’s a very warm day and they’re dying of thirst – wilting in tomato terms!

Of course it’s impossible to avoid rain if growing outside without cover, and there are regions where a little rain now and again is fine, but regular showers in cool or humid conditions and fungal diseases are waiting to attack those lovely plants that you have invested so much care and time in.

Old soil used for growing tomatoes in previous seasons also contains diseases. Choose disease resistant varieties such as Ferline and Celebrity, or graft rootstock to your favourite varieties. Aegis rootstock (in UK) is available in small quantities and Maxifort rootstock in USA is very popular – these are particularly good to increase the yield of an heirloom such as Brandywine.

Other common problems include Blossom End Rot (BER) which shows itself as a large leathery patch on the underside (blossom end) of the tomato. This is caused by a nutrient deficiency – a lack of calcium. It can be prevented by keeping roots moist so they have access to the largest soil area and therefore nutrients, or by spraying plants with calcium – this is very effective.

So, choose the best variety for your area, sow at the best time – not too early or plants will struggle and try avoid some of the common problems and diseases by choosing resistant varieties.

2 Responses

  1. David
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I did as you suggested above about searching for changing “area” for the town where I live. I didn’t get any useful results! (Using quotes or not made no difference). Still the two varieties you named for Kent do just as well here. In fact I have grown Moneymaker for some years here & 2 years ago a few plants of GD.

    My first year of ever growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, on an allotment, nearly met with disaster! I ended up losing all the fruit on the very first truss of the 8-9 plants I had. One Sunday turned out to be much warmer than usual & I wasn’t able to get down to the allotment till Monday afternoon. I was met by the sight of all my plants wilting! I immediately gave them a little water, only a little so as to avoid the skins splitting, a couple of hours later I gave them a good soaking. They had already perked up & I thought they had been saved. Alas a few weeks later I noticed that all the fruit on the 1st truss had what looked like Blossom End Rot. I threw them all away. Other than that they seemed perfectly fine & I had a reasonable crop.

    I enjoy reading your newsletter & reading about the things you write about.


    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi David,
      It’s good to read about your tomato growing experiences.
      I had a lot of trouble with splitting skins last season on the outdoors toms but this season I’m growing crack resistant ones outside.
      Since I started spraying with Chempak Calcium, I rarely get any toms affected with Blossom End Rot at all – it works very well.
      I aim to grow about sixty plants this season and around twenty different varieties – I’d grow a lot more if I had the room!

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