Tag-Archive for ◊ growing tomatoes ◊

• Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

East Anglia has received its fair share of rain in the last month or so and it certainly feels like a new season is approaching.

Cucumber in the Greenhouse

Cucumber in the Greenhouse

In between showers and cloudy/wintry days I have been able to harvest my first crop of potatoes from a variety called Red Duke of York. The 2010 crop was not as bountiful as previous years due to the extremely dry weather which we experienced at the beginning of the summers and the late spring.

My tomatoes are ripening nicely in the greenhouse and also outdoors. In fact I have been busy feeding the plants with organic tomato feed as these plants are rather greedy. I had a nice crop of cucumbers in the greenhouse but it’s coming to the end as some of my plants have really dried out. I haven’t had as much success with peppers as I have in previous years and I am not sure of the reasons why. There is a possibility that I have overfed the plants and encouraged them to grow leaves as opposed to flowers. The peppers are still small and green but this could be due to the fact that this is a different variety from my usual favouriate Tasty Grill Red F1 Hybrid variety.

I have managed to cope with my courgette glut by sharing my crop and also using them extensively in risottos and in roast. My courgettes are truly relishing the wet weather and it is showing. Likewise the lawn is starting to recover from the draught which completely burnt out the green expanse of grass.

I will have to keep an eye on potato blight and tomato diseases if the wet weather continues for too long. The gardening season is not over for me yet as I am preparing my final sowing of beans and lettuces to come.

• Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

It’s looking good so far this month on the tomato front: the varieties which I chose to grow this year have a good taste and are also cropping well.

The Gardeners’s Delight cherry tomatoes have a nice sweet taste and you can see in the picture that they are smaller than the other types of tomatoes that I have grown outdoors and in the greenhouse.

Plate of Garden Tomatoes

Plate of Garden Tomatoes

The bigger wrinkly beef tomatoes are from the Marmande variety which I am growing this year for the first time. I am growing some in the greenhouse and also outdoors although the outdoor ones take longer to ripen. I have found that the Marmande tomatoes are very handy to use in my new recipe for courgette and tomato bake which you will find below.

The third variety which I am currently growing in the greenhouse is called Tigereta. This is a small to medium size tomato with distinctive stripes as you can see in the top right hand corner of the picture.

• Friday, April 03rd, 2009

Growing your own tomatoes couldn’t be more satisfying. They are fairly easy to grow and nothing beats the taste of organically home-grown tomatoes.

Another benefit of growing your own tomatoes is that you get a wide choice of varieties of tomatoes to grow from seeds. The choice is much wider than the tomatoes which you can find in supermarkets and the varieties are also adapted for growing in the UK.

How to get started

At this time of year you have a few options: you can either purchase a plug plant from a garden centre or order your plants online. Make sure that the plant is watered sufficiently and do not plant the tomato outdoors until all risk of frost has finished.

Potting tomato plants

Potting tomato plants

Alternatively you could try growing tomatoes from seeds, which is my preferred option. All you need is a pot or tray of fine compost where you will place a few tomato seeds that need to be covered with a little compost. Place the tray on a sunny window sill and keep the soil moist (you may want to cover the tray with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in until the seeds have germinated). Within 2 weeks you should start to see some seedlings emerging from the compost.

Once the seedlings are big enough to handle i.e. once they have at least an additional pair of leaves to their original leaves (called true leaf) you can transplant them in their own individual pots to grow on in a sunny area. Once all risk of frost has passed and the weather is warmer you will be able to plant your tomatoes outside. If like me you have a greenhouse, you can move the plants earlier in the greenhouse and either grow them in big pots or grow bags. Grow bags are handy because they take little space and can be disposed of easily at the end of the season. I simply put 3 plants per grow bag of either tomatoes or peppers.

My favourite tomato varieties

I recommend Gardeners Delight which is easy to grow and ripens quickly. Also another favourite of mine is Tigeretta – a middle sized tomato with little yellow stripes, which is tasty and proved to be very disease resistant when we had the really wet summer two years ago and blight and rot was killing most plants.

I tend to use the Roma variety to make tomato sauce or for cooking. I have also grown Alicante tomatoes which are bigger than the above mentioned varieties and therefore take longer to ripen in my personal experience. I normally prefer to grow cherry tomatoes because they ripen quicker than big tomato varieties and produce vigourous bushes full of fruits. Additionally for cherry tomatoes I recommend Sun gold and Black Cherry (although some people find that the colour is a bit off- putting).

You can get some varieties which are specifically adapted to baskets so they are worth giving a go too. This year I will also try the Marmande variety (my friend has given me a few plants that he grew from seeds) which usually produces big beefsteak tomatoes.

Caring for your tomatoes

You will need to feed your tomato plants as soon as they have flowers. I recommend using an organic tomato feed which you can find easily online or even in DIY shops. This will ensure that you get a bounty of juicy and tasty tomatoes.

Some tomato plants need to have their side shoots removed for plentiful crops; it’s best to follow the instructions on your packet of seeds. As the plants grow, they will also need staking to alleviate the plant from the weight of the fruits and branches. I personally use bamboo canes and some garden twine. Also, I have always been advised by my peers that you should avoid getting the tomato leaves wet as tomato plants don’t like the damp and can get diseases.

Don’t worry if you get it wrong, you should still get some tomatoes as long as you give them a little care every so often. And harvesting couldn’t be more fun!

Top TipMy top tip: marigolds are a perfect companion plant to tomatoes, i.e. they repel the pests which are likely to damage your tomato plant. I always grow marigold every year and I plant them along the path which is near the tomatoes so it does not only looks good but it’s beneficial to my vegetables too.