There’s many benefits to growing your own tomatoes at home – you can grow so many different varieties, and they’ll always taste so much better than ones from the supermarket as you allow the fruits to fully ripen on the plant before you pick them and let the full flavour develop. Discover how to keep your fabulous tomato fruits growing and, more importantly, ripening through the rest of the summer months with this tomato masterclass.
In a recent video, our friend Martin of Pots & Trowels shares all sorts of tips to ensure your tomato growing season is better than ever! You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the advice you need to keep your tomato plants happy and healthy.
The unpredictable UK weather this summer hasn’t been the best growing weather – it’s been very hot which seems to have slowed some plants down, and then we’ve had a few weeks of duller, cooler weather. But, hopefully by now, your tomato plants should be ripening up their fruits, ready to bless you with a bountiful harvest in the weeks to come.
Determinate tomato varieties such as Tumbling Tom from Mr Fothergill’s – one of varieties that Martin has been growing in the greenhouse in his video – are ideal for growing in pots on the patio or in hanging baskets, either indoors or outdoors. Their bushy habit means they doesn’t require any pinching out for easy growing, you can just let them naturally just cascade (or tumble, as the name of this variety suggests!) over the side of the pot.
Martin’s top tips to keep all your tomato plants growing well this summer:
- Water on a regular basis and keep the soil consistently moist.
- Never let your plants dry out as this can lead to your fruits having tough skins due to erratic watering.
- Check plants regularly for yellowing leaves and pick them off to allow better air circulation around ripening fruits.
- Feed plants with a high potash tomato fertiliser to encourage flowering, fruiting and ripening. The added calcium will also to help prevent blossom end rot on larger tomato varieties. Treat with a full strength solution at least once a week, or use a half strength solution twice a week.
Martin also has Tigerella and Merrygold tomatoes growing in his greenhouse, both of which are cordon (or indeterminate) varieties. Cordon tomato plants, also known as vine tomatoes, are trained to grow from a single main stem which is tied into a cane, and involves removing all the side shoots to stop it growing into a big, unruly plant with little useable fruit.
Martin’s top tips to keep your cordon tomato plants growing well this summer:
- Keep on top of removing any side shoots that appear by pinching or twisting them off. This includes any shoots growing out of the end of any trusses of tomatoes, especially heavy ones that may be weighing the plant down.
- If your plant is still attempting to grow new trusses of flowers at the top of the plant that aren’t going to have time to develop and ripen into fully formed fruits as growth slows down and the colder autumn weather sets in, it’s best to remove them. Early August is the perfect time to do this. Count one or two leaves above the last set of developing fruits, grab your gardening knife or pruners and remove the stem above that point to stop the plant from growing anymore. It will continue to try, however, so keep an eye on any new side shoots that try to emerge and remove them.
- Remove any damaged or yellowing leaves as and when you find them.
- If you have fruits that are beginning to ripen on the lower trusses, then you can also consider thinning out some of the lower foliage on the plant to stop it getting too crowded, allow for better air circulation around the base of the plant, and to aid ripening. To remove, get your finger and your thumb, push the leaf stem up until you hear a snap, and then down, and it should snap away cleanly. Don’t remove too much or go too high though, as the green leaves are still helping the plant to photosynthesise. Once all the lower tomato trusses have ripened and the higher trusses begin to ripen, then you can gradually continue to follow the ripening process up the plant and work your way up to remove some more foliage.
- Being diligent about removing leaves, side shoots and new growth that won’t develop in time helps to direct the plant’s energy into the remaining active trusses that are forming tomatoes and helps them to ripen.
- However, if you’re a fan of green tomato chutney, by all means let those newer fruits that won’t have time to ripen grow and put them to good use!
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