Tomatoes. Such a wonderful and versatile fruit that prepared or cooked in an uncountable number of ways. From soups to sauces, salads to steaks, there aren’t many dishes out there that can’t be complimented by adding the wonderful flavour of tomatoes.
In this article, we will talk about best the reasons for growing your own tomatoes, the best places for growing them, and how to grow tomatoes all year round.
Why grow your own tomatoes?
If you truly want to experience that juicy tomato flavour, you’re probably better off not looking for it at your local supermarket.
This is because those kinds of tomatoes are mass produced and have been specially bred for a certain purpose, and it isn’t to be he best tasting tommies on the planet.
No, thee main goal for produces of these tomatoes is to have them looking ripe and succulent for as long as possible while they sit on the supermarket shelf, and in my experience this breeding had led to a quite substantial loss of flavour.
Even tomatoes that are labelled ‘organic’ don’t quite seem to offer the same taste sensation that home grown ones do, and you usually have to pay a premium for that organic product.
When you way it up, there are a so many reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes and not many to convince you otherwise, so let’s take a look at how to grow tomatoes all year round.
Where to grow tomatoes all year round?
Tomatoes need a combination of good, fertile soil, a lot of sunlight, plenty of water, and warmth, in order to flourish, and with the UK’s climate being the temperamental little demon that it is, the best place for your tomatoes is in a greenhouse or a mini greenhouse with a greenhouse heater. Remember that some mini greenhouses have plastic casings, so aren’t good to heat. Only heat the perspex or glass versions for safety.
Here’s a greenhouse heater:
Even in summer, the weather can suddenly change, causing temperatures to drop sharply and this can affect your tomato plants in a bad way. So, while it is quite possible to grow tomatoes out in the open in your garden, you’ll have more success growing them indoors in a temperature controlled environment.
How to grow tomatoes all year round in a greenhouse.
As we mentioned above, tomatoes need very fertile soil in order to grow properly, so it is extremely important to prepare the soil just before planting. The best way to do this is to use rotted manure, and to use a fair old amount of it too; let’s say around a third of an average sized wheelbarrow per square metre, and this will prep the soil perfectly for your tomato plants to be planted in.
Around the start of march is the best time to plant your tomatoes, but make sure you use a pH probe to check the soil and that the reading you get back is between 6.5 and 7. If not, use Sulphur or lime to get the balance right.
To grow tomatoes all year round, you need to know how to feed them properly. These juicy, red, beauties thrive when treated with a fertiliser that is high in potassium and phosphorous, but low in nitrogen. Water soluble fertilisers that have a ratio of 8 (nitrogen)-32 (Phosphorous)- 16 (potassium) are perfect for tomato plants.
You can also get some Mycorrhizal fungi powder to coat the seedlings prior to planting as this will provide them with a good supply of nutrients and water throughout the growing process.
Types of tomato plants and what you need to know about them
There are quite a lot of different varieties of tomatoes, but the main ones are the common, or indeterminate type, the large ‘beef steak’ type that are popular in the Mediterranean, plum tomatoes that are great for pasts sauces, and the small, cherry tomato type that are often used in salads.
If you are growing the standard type of tomatoes, as most people do, you have to keep an eye on the side growing shoots and clip them off, as these can affect the fruit yield of the plant. These plants need a support like a bamboo pole to grow up in order to get the most out of them.
Beefsteak tomatoes are not only larger than other varieties, but they also take longer to fully ripen, and this makes growing them outside in the UK a bit of a nightmare.
Inside a good greenhouse however, they can grow really well and provide you with delicious, plump, tomatoes that you can hollow out and fill with cheese..mmmmm.. I do love a Beefsteak Tomato…
If space is limited, you can still enjoy homegrown tomatoes in the form of one of the dwarf varieties. These types of tomatoes can be grown in containers and don’t need much space to do so.
Things to look out for when growing tomatoes all year round
When growing tomatoes in a greenhouse or even a poly tunnel, it is really important to make sure the ventilation is on point. A poorly ventilated greenhouse can lead to all sorts of problems for your tomatoes such as making them more prone to disease. However, consider in the colder months how to maintain and reduce ventilation.
Also as already mentioned, if you are growing a cordon variety of tomato, you really need to have a good pair of secateurs handy to clip off those unwanted side shoots.
Just make sure you don’t accidentally remove a freshly growing fruit truss by mistake. If you’re not sure about the difference between the two, do a little research online before clipping anything. You want to remove the side shoots to concentrate fruit growth, otherwise they will continue to grow and reduce crop total. Here’s a look at removing a sideshoot:
If your tomato plants have bore quite a lot of fruit but are a bit slow in ripening, you can speed things along a little by clipping off the top growing tip of the main stem. This is known as ‘stopping’ plants and has proven to be quite effective.
Make sure to water the plants regularly or you might experience the fruit’s skin splitting open. If you notice this happening, you need to step up the frequency and regularity of your watering schedule. Consider an automatic watering system if you want to get serious about growing in the greenhouse. Otherwise, an automatic garden hose reel makes light work too if you have time on your hands everyday.
Other issues too may have are with Blackfly and Greenfly, but these are easily dealt with by using one of the many sprays available.
That just about wraps up this article on how to grow tomatoes all year round. We hope you found this informative and entertaining, and invite you to explore this site further.