TOMATOES
Types:
  • Greenhouse & Outdoors.
  • Varieties, upright, bush, cherry, plum; small, medium, beefsteak;
  • red, yellow, orange, striped...
Skill needed:Moderate to high to achieve a reasonable yield.
Soil:
  • Growing bags and containers (9") filled with tomato-growing compost are effective, particularly for the novice - as long as the plants are watered and fed properly
  • Soil can quickly become exhausted and infected - need to rotate.
Sowing Time:
  • Outdoors: sow (indoors) Feb-April, plant (outdoors) May-June when frosts finished.
  • Greenhouse, heated, sow Jan., plant Feb-March.
  • Greenhouse, unheated sow March, plant Apr-May.
  • Seeds need warmth to germinate well, about 65F.
Growing Tips:
  • Try growing from seedlings if you have not grown tomatoes before.
  • Need to 'pot on' plants. First at the 2-leaf stage then as plant 'outgrow' pots - look for roots growing out of drainage holes. Start plants in pots slightly larger than root ball. Gradually move to larger pots until ready for final site. Don't use too large a pot initially - some plants can be agrophobic!
  • Ring culture can be effective. Use bottomless large flower pots (you can buy specialist ones or just knock the bottoms out of old ones) in growbags or a trenched area.
  • Uprights will need support and side-shoots will need to be removed. Growing tip will need to be removed once suitable height and sufficient is reached.
  • Bush varieties (no clear main stem) do not need removal of side shoots.
  • Bush varieties 'sprawl'. Make sure that tomatoes are not lying on the ground where they can be damaged.
  • Keep moist and fed particularly if in containers.
Problems:
  • Potato Blight - Brown areas spread from edge of leaves, black patches on stems, fruit shrinks and turns dark brown. Usually associated with damp weather, can be devastating. Try to save what fruit (though it often quickly rots) you have and destroy plants. Large-type tomatoes seems more vulnerable.
  • Yellowing between leaf veins - due to magnesium deficiency - spray with Epsom Salts (half ounce per pint of water).
  • Split fruit - usually caused by erratic watering.
  • Blossom end rot - bottom of fruit dries and darkens, caused by insufficient water.
  • Blossom drop - flower has not been pollinated, usually caused by dry air, gently spray flowers with water in the morning.
Harvesting:Usually 16-20 weeks after sowing, July to September.
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