Tomato seeds we offer for sale are cordon types of tomatoes - that
is, they grow tall up strings or canes. They are usually grown in
an unheated greenhouse, but can be grown outdoors in mild, sheltered
locations (see notes at the end). Moneymaker or
Beefsteak do well when grown outside. Tomatoes
will not tolerate frost at either end of the season.
Sow seeds in a propagator at 18C degrees at the beginning of April.
Sow the seed 1/2cm deep thinly spaced out in a seedtray, or sow
one seed in each plug of a plugtray. Use good quality seed compost.
Cover with a sheet of glass and then newspaper. Turn the glass daily.
Germination takes 7 to 10 days. Keep moist but not overwatered.
When the second pair of leaves have appeared, ease up each plant
without any damage to the roots using a plastic plant label or similar.
If sown in plugtrays, push up the whole plug without disturbing
the rootball. Plant each seedling in a 7cm pot using good quality
potting compost. Water little and often. Grow on at 18C degrees.
Give plants enough space so that they do not shade each other as
they grow. They need good top light. the final watering in this
size of pot should be with an organic liquid feed.
When the plants are 15cm to 23cm tall, with the first flowers forming
and at the beginning of June, pot on the plants to their final large
pots. These should have a minimum diameter of 23cm. (If plants are
to be grown outside - harden them off over a few days before planting
out.) Plant into the large pots so that the lowest leaves are just
above soil level. More roots will then form up the buried stem.
Leave 7cm at the top of the pot for watering. Place pots 45cm from
each other to allow ventilation between plants. Grow Tagetes (bedding
French Marigolds) in pots between tomato plants and dotted around
the greenhouse to deter whitefly.
Support the plants by attaching string to the stem
below the first true leaves. Attach the other end of the string
to overhead wires. Each plant can then be twisted gently round its
string as it grows. Alternatively, support the plants by tying loosly
with string to bamboo canes.
and growing on
Up the main stem, between each leaf and the stem, side
shoots start to develop. these must be removed when quite small
using a knife.
Spray plants gently in the early morning with a fine mist to help
disperse pollen which sets the fruit. Also tap on the bamboo canes
or string to help with this.
Keep the greenhouse well ventilated.
Give the plants an organic seaweed-based fertiliser formulated for
tomatoes once a week until they start to flower and fruit. then
change to a high potash organic tomato feed, such as liquid comfrey,
to encourage the flowering and fruiting.
the plants reach 1.5m tall, cut off the lower leaves up to the first
truss of tomatoes. This will let more air around the fruit. Remove
these leaves from the greenhouse. Cut off the tip of the tomato
plant when it reaches the roof. Let 4 or 5 trusses of tomatoes grow
To grow well outdoors, tomatoes need a sunny
site, sheltered from the wind. Against a south-facing wall is perfect.
The soil must be well drained. Do not grow near potatoes.
Prepare the ground the previous winter by digging in well-rotted
organic manure. Before planting in early June, fork in a general
balanced organic fertiliser, and wilted comfrey leaves if available.
Tomatoes can be grown through holes in black polythene to conserve
moisture and prevent weeds. Alternatively a mulch of straw can be
put round each plant. If possible place cloches over the young plants
for a few weeks. Continue
to grow on as for greenhouse tomatoes.
tomatoes can be ripened in the autumn by untying the plants from
their canes, and laying them down sideways on a bed of straw, with
the roots still in the ground. Cover the fruit with cloches. Water
only the roots. They will not tolerate frost however. If a frost
is forecast, the whole plants can be uprooted and hung upside down
to continue to ripen in a greenhouse or indoors on a sunny windowsill.