This has been a fabulous week for growing tomatoes because of the sunny weather that we’ve had here in the UK. If you’re not in the UK, I hope you’ve had good weather too!
Garden fleece which is usually used to cover plants to protect them from the cold, is very good for protecting and shading them against the hot sun, especially the seedlings and young plants that haven’t yet developed a big enough root system to cope with the heat.
The fact is – tomato plants need to be “hardened off” to both low and high temperatures.
The sow-a-long toms are all doing fine after their transplant to bigger pots last week, but I’ve given them plenty of shade as Tumbling Toms have a lot of leaf area to provide moisture to.
The more leaves your tomato plants have, the more water they need access to – especially in hot weather.
Traditionally, tomatoes are sown or can be left out in the (unheated) greenhouse at the end of April and put out into the garden 24/7 at the end of May.
Because of this great weather, most of my tomato plants are already in the greenhouse and the toms destined for outdoors (ones I grow in large pots), are on the patio and around the garden during the day and in the greenhouse at night.
At last, we are not tripping over and bumping into tomato plants around the house at night!
Of course we may still get some cold nights before the end of May so keep an eye on the weather forecast, especially the night-time temperatures. If temperatures go below 5C then tomato plants need to be under cover.
For optimum growth tomato plants need a higher night-time temperature than 5C, but our tomato plants need to get used to these cooler conditions (gradually of course) if they are to do well outdoors.
Easy mistakes to make at this time of the season.
- Leaving plants in full sun all day before they have become used to full sun. (The quickest way to revive a plant is by spraying/misting with water).
- Planting too many tumbler plants into a hanging basket or large pot and crowding them. Two plants is enough and will perform better if they have plenty of room for their roots to develop.
- Leaving plants out in the cold and rain – I know that we haven’t had any in the past week or so, but if it is wet next week and temperatures drop, fungal disease is waiting to strike!
I hope that your plants are doing very well in this great weather. If you’ve sown around the beginning of March you should begin to see a few flower buds forming on trusses (tall varieties) and leaf stems (bush varieties).
Keep them well watered but best not to stand them in water for more than ten or fifteen minutes or the compost will become water-logged and air-less.
Give them a feed when transplanting (optional, and use a general purpose feed, not tomato food at this stage) and let them get used to their new home before puting in full sun all day – they need to establish their roots in order to supply the leaves with enough water.