One of nature’s superfoods, growing tomatoes at home is easy and the varieties are plentiful, from big beefsteak to little cherry. We have the nine tips you need to help you grow the best tomatoes.
1. Plant in warm soil
Tomatoes generally need three months of warm, frost free weather to produce well. Labour weekend is the traditional time for planting tomatoes but they can be planted outdoors as soon as conditions allow, usually after the risk of frost has gone.
2. Dig in deep
For your tomato plant to develop a strong root system, plant your seedlings so that only the very top leaves are showing.
3. Support system
Tomatoes can get out of hand in a hurry – strong staking or trellising is a must to keep them healthy and off the ground.
4. Basil buddies
Make companion planting a rule of thumb in your garden. Companion planting is the grouping of plants together in a combination that is beneficial to themselves or other plants around them. Companion planting can help repel unwanted insects or attract beneficial insects, nourish the soil, help control diseases – generally improving growing conditions.
Planting basil with your tomatoes will help to improve the taste of both plants. For best results plant your basil and tomato together, they share soil and space quite companionably. You can plant them close together without significant reduction in yields, which is helpful in smaller gardens.
Laterals are the little leaves that appear up the stem of your tomato plant. Pinching off laterals will allow the trusses of fruit to develop better, and promotes better airflow. You could leave some of these laterals (maximum 4-5) if the tomato has lots of room to grow into, you should tie these branches to separate stakes to maintain good airflow. If you’re growing ramblers or have planted in a hanging basket you do not need to pinch off the laterals.
6. Remove bottom leaves
As your tomato plant grows, remove the lower quarter of the plant’s leaves. They are not needed and can rot.
7. Avoid pruning
Only the bottom leaves and laterals should be removed. Only prune if the leaves are shading the fruit.
8. Lots of water and sun
Tomatoes need full sun and love to be watered. If you’re growing your tomatoes in a pot, they need to be well watered so that they don’t dry out. The more you water your tomatoes, the juicier your fruit are going to be.
9. Feed, feed, feed
Tomatoes are what we call gross feeders, they’re super hungry plants. Every couple of weeks, give them a good boost with some fertiliser in the watering can and you’ll be good to go for the season.