Homegrown tomatoes provide incredible amounts of flavour. The fully ripened fruit, warmed by the sun, give a far better taste than anything you’d be able to buy from a shop. Even if you’ve only got room for a couple of tomatoes, it’s completely worth growing some of these delicious plants.
There are many different varieties of tomatoes that you can grow, and they all require similar sorts of care. One of our favourites is Red Bodyguard from our friends at Mr Fothergill’s. This fruit ripens to a deep rich red colour with lots of flesh inside and it tastes sublime.
Tomatoes grow well from seeds. Plant in late February to early March and then move into cold greenhouses after they’ve been planted out to help them develop and ripen slowly.
You’d expect the fruit to ripen by the beginning of august and to continue to produce fruit through to the first frost in October. This means these plants will need a lot of care over the summer so you can get the most out of them.
Our friends at Pots & Trowels have shared some masterclass tips to help you give your tomato plants some much needed TLC this summer. You can watch the video or keep reading to find out how to harvest a bumper crop this year.
How Do I Look After My Tomatoes in the Summer?
Step 1 – Remember to water and feed your tomato plants on a regular basis. Never let the fruits go dry or the plants dry out.
There are systems you can invest in to help make this process easier, such as a self-watering pot and trough system. The pot sits on a trough so that it’s constantly fed little and often, and the plants can drink water as and when they need to. You’ll find these posts have a wick that links the pot, the trough and the water.
Alternatively, grow your plants in a big pot, but use a small tray underneath to allow for slow watering. Surplus water then drains through and keeps your plant moist, but don’t leave them standing in water all the time.
Step 2 – You’ll need to tie your plants to canes as they grow and support the weaker stems with strings and wiring.
Step 3 –Look out for side shoots. You might notice some big side shoots starting to grow off your plant, especially around the base. Try to pull these off or slice them with a knife. These shoots are not needed. Check your whole stem to see if there are any more side shoots hidden and snap them off where you can.
Step 4 – Cut the tops of your plant off. If your plant has reached the ceiling of your greenhouse, you’ll need to trim the top trusses. This is because they won’t have time to develop and ripen, so by the end of July or early August you’ll need to stop their growth and cut them back. Use a knife to cut the top truss, ensuring you slice above a leaf. At Darlac, we have a fantastic Pruning Knife that will help you glide through the stems with small, clean cuts. All the energy can then go into the fruits below and you can almost guarantee the remaining plants will ripen by the autumn.
When Should I Prune My Tomato Plant?
Good green foliage on your plants means they are healthy and growing well. If you find the leaves start to curl on one of your plants, don’t worry too much. This happens when the plants get too much light and is the plant’s way of naturally protecting itself. It curves the leaves because of the excess heat.
If you find you have too many leaves it’s good to trim them off, especially if the leaves have died or lost colour. To do this, lift a leaf and snap it off. Don’t cut them off. A simple snap will do. Continue with this method for the bottom few leaves. The lower trusses will then get more air and it helps to stop humid conditions.
What Problems Can I Expect with Growing Tomatoes in Summer?
Some tomatoes might have small black bases or marks on them, this is known as blossom end rot. It’s where the flower of the fruit once was. This isn’t a disease; it’s caused by a lack of calcium or a calcium deficiency, which is often caused by a lack of water reaching the full length of the plant.
You’ll probably find most of these smaller fruits are at the top of the plant and they haven’t had enough time, or nutrients, to develop as much as the lower fruit. It can often be caused by heat stress, but the good news is it doesn’t mean the end for your crop. You can still eat the tops of the fruit and they can remain on the plant.
Insects can also cause problems. Try hanging sticky traps, such as yellow sticky traps, in between your plants, as aphids and whitefly can be a problem in summer and this is a good alternative to spraying chemicals.
How to Look After Outdoor Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes can be grown in baskets and often need less care The side shoots won’t need to be picked out and the top of your plant won’t need trimming as it naturally grows and trails through the growing season. If you’ve got a sunny wall or fence, it will mean lots of lovely fruit, as it thrives on the sunshine.
Remember, plants that grow outside will still need food and water, you’ll also have to check for ripened fruit and harvest it regularly to maximise growth (this makes for great summer salads!).
Enjoy growing your tomatoes this summer and know the best is yet to come as the harvesting season looms. Remember water, feed, remove side shoots, take the growing tips off the tall plants, and sit back and wait for your delicious fruits.
At Darlac, we’ve got the tool to help you with your gardening jobs. You can find these in store from your local garden centre. Read more about Darlac stockists here.
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