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Growing Tomatoes
Once known as the "apple of love" tomatoes have always been a popular crop for the amateur and professional gardener.

Sowing to harvesting time - 12 - 15 weeks depending on variety.

Once regarded almost solely as a greenhouse crop, with the development of new, hardier varieties you can now grow some varieties outdoors.  However it is important to remember that the crop is native to a fairly hot dry climate.

High summer temperatures suit them perfectly, but since that weather cannot be expected every year in  a temperate climate, some care must be taken to produce a good crop. They do not like damp, cloudy, cool conditions and they hate frost.

Most gardeners save growing time by starting tomato plants under glass, in a cold frame or on the windowsill ensuring frost free conditions. There is no doubt that the best way to grow toms is in a greenhouse.

Soil - Tomatoes will grow in any reasonably rich soil, or any poor soil providing the basic nutrients are added during the growing period. Growing soil should be replaced after every crop to prevent disease. Purpose made grow bags are ideal.

Buy tomato seeds & plants
How to grow tomatoes

1. Sow seeds in a propagator or seed tray from late winter to early spring. Space the seeds 2cm apart.

2. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them off into 8cm+ pots filled with compost.

3. When the plants are 12-15cm high, transplant them to permanent beds and tie to stakes.

4. If growing single stem varieties, remove axil shoots with a clean knife to control the plants growth.

5. Feed with liquid tomato feed as soon as the fruit begins to swell and repeat every two weeks until harvesting.

6. If growing bush varieties, put dry straw on the ground under each plant to protect from damp soil and slugs.

Mini greenhouses Ideal for growing tomatoes Mini greenhouses Ideal for growing tomatoes
Includes a roll-up door with two zips for easy access, a strong tubular framework, ground anchoring pegs and reinforced UV-resistant cover. Ideal for growing tomatoes, cucumbers & chillies. Strong tubular framework. Heavy duty construction. Ground anchoring pegs included. Reinforced UV resistant cover.


Greenhouse tomatoes may need help with pollination. The pollen needs exactly the right atmospheric humidity to adhere to the female parts of the flowers and to grow down towards the ovule. The remedy is to spray the plants and surroundings in the early morning.

Sideshooting and stopping

As soon as the flower trusses start to form the plant will begin to produce shoots in the joints between the stem and the leaf. By nature the tomato is a bushy plant, but allowing these shoots to grow will result in a mass of bushy foliage and small fruits. Remove sideshoots by "pinching out" using your thumb and forefinger.

Repeat this every two days towards the end of the season. When the plant is bearing six or seven trusses of fruit break off the growing tip cleanly just above the second leaf above the top truss. The plant can then concentrate all of its resources into growing fruit.


Removing the lower leaves of the plant will encourage it to channel its resources into fruit production and improve ventilation close to the soil.

Feeding and watering

Tomatoes need plenty of moisture but not a saturated soil. Twice daily watering is a must in hot weather. Greenhouse grown crops will benefit from a good misting by spraying the whole greenhouse including floor, staging etc.


The bottom trusses ripen first, pick the tomatoes before they are quite ripe. Sever the stalk at the "knuckle" just above the calyx. They can complete their ripening on a windowsill within a few days. Removing the crop before it's ripe helps the plant to concentrate on the next lot of fruit.

Interesting tomato facts

Tomatoes were first cultivated in Peru and Ecuador and the first extensive plantings were made in Mexico. Columbus brought both seeds and plants to Europe in 1498, they were grown for medicinal purposes and for decoration.

Books dating between 1597 and 1629 describe tomatoes as "apples of love" or "poma amoris". The name love apple was derived from the literal translation of the French name pomme d' amour, the fruit was believed to be a good aphrodisiac.

A good way to ripen off green tomatoes at the end of the season is to place a mature, aromatic banana or apple into a polythene bag with the tomatoes. Ethylene gas produced by the banana or apple will quickly turn your toms red.

Tomato plants account for one fifth of all vegetable plants purchased. They are so popular that they are grown in three-quarters of all domestic greenhouses in this country.

Related pages..

Growing Cucumbers Growing Cucumbers
Growing Strawberries Growing Strawberries


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