How to Grow Tomatoes Outdoors
How to Grow Tomatoes (Outdoors)
A far easier crop to grow than most beginners would believe, the outdoor tomato is always economical and well worth growing. The main benefit of growing your own is that a much better choice of varieties, and hence flavour, is open to you. They are always best when grown against a wall. If only a small amount of space is available, I believe it’s much better to use growing-bags. If you’re growing single-stemmed varieties, reckon on four per bag; three for bush varieties.
Soil requirements If grown in the open garden, the soil must be deep, open, fertile and well supplied with organic matter. It is usually far better and wiser to use growing bags.
Possible yield If all goes well, around 4.5lb (2kg) per plant.
Time from Sowing to harvest 4-5 months.
Varieties ‘Gardener’s Delight’ is still one of the best varieties.’ Golden Sunrise’ has a terrific flavour. For one of those lumpy and large Continental tomatoes, go for ‘Marmande’, Sowing Sow in heat (63°F / 17°C) in aor indoors in mid-April. Best to sow two seeds in small individual pots and retain the stronger seedling when large enough to distinguish.
Transplanting Pot on into 4in (10cm) pots when the smaller ones are full of root. Harden off and plant in final position when first flowers are open, or after the risk of frost is over.
If planting in the open garden, allow 18in (45cm) between plants and 24in (60cm) between rows. A standard sized growing bag will hold three bush plants and four trained plants outdoors.
Cultivations Bush varieties don’t have to be trained but will need the support of a stake to tie the main shoots to as they develop.
Varieties requiring training should be tied to a stout cane or stake alongside them and should be grown as a single stem, all side shoots being removed as soon as they’re seen. They should be allowed to produce four fruit trusses, and then the tops should be nipped out leaving two leaves above the fourth truss. Control any weeds and keep the plants well supplied with water at all times. Feed according to the instructions on the feed bottle.
As bush varieties start to fruit, lay straw on the ground beneath them to stop the fruits getting mud splashed. As the autumn approaches, cut the plants away from their support, lay them on straw and putor a tunnel over them to help them ripen.
Pests and diseases Potato blight is one of the few problems.
Harvesting Tomatoes may be picked once the whole fruit is coloured but when they are still too hard to eat. Ripen them indoors.