Reverse Season Sowing
Two seasons ago, I started a few seeds and took a few cuttings in August to see how far I could get the seedlings through the winter. To my surprise they survived and even fruited in the late winter and early spring.
To do this, you will need to grow a small (dwarf) bush variety such as Micro Tom, Minibel, Vilma, Sweat’n’Neat and Heartbreaker etc.
The idea is to use the relatively long daylight hours of late summer to get the seedlings off to a good start. Then keep the plants on an indoor windowsill or in the porch/conservatory through the winter. Choosing a small bush variety that ripens early is important for tomatoes in February – not as many fruit as you would expect through the summer, owing to the low light conditions, but tomatoes nevertheless! Give it a try … it’s good fun!
Bato Buckets and the Earth Box
There are so many ways to grow tomatoes and it’s never too early to consider the options for next season. Here are two growing methods based on the reservoir system.
Bato Buckets, also known as Dutch Buckets, are becoming a popular way to grow tomatoes with very successful results too!
Basically, a Bato Bucket is a large pot with a reservoir in the bottom. There is an overflow pipe that takes the water/nutrients back to a water tank and the solution is re-used and pumped around again.
Perlite is one of the most popular mediums for this method, partly because the perlite can be flushed, cleaned and used again.
The Earth Box
Another reservoir container system is the “earth box”. This is more traditional in the sense that it uses soil and I’ve heard that the results are very good.
Both systems are easily copied by a DIY enthusiast – next season we’ll be making our own versions!
Grow Bags of Perlite or Coco
On the subject of growing media, grow bags of 100% perlite or 100% coco shell (coir) are also becoming popular in the hobby market – they’ve been used by professional growers for years.
Coir holds a lot of air and has a very good capillary action but it is more difficult to clean and re-use, unlike perlite.
Reflecting on the season
Now is a good time to reflect on the season’s results and decide what improvements can be made for next season.
I grew far too many plants (again!) this season. Growing fewer plants but with more tomatoes is actually easy to achieve. It’s also easier when it comes to setting up a holiday watering system!
Fewer plants means more light, better aeration and less chance of disease.
Varieties for next season …
Being choosy over which varieties to grow is also important. Of course it’s good to try a few new ones like Indigo Rose … it looks great but I have only tasted one tomato so far owing to its late ripening … how is your Indigo Rose?
I played it safe this season by growing a lot of cherry varieties, but the medium and large varieties that I did grow, did very well owing to the great weather. Black Sea Man and Eva Purple Ball (both large varieties) were excellent.
If you would like to, let us know how the season has been for you!