Warmth to Germinate: To germinate, tomato seeds need warmth.
For an early start, sow your tomato seeds into trays or modules filled with seed compost and then place them into a heated propagator in the months of January or February.
When the seedlings have produced three or four leaves transplant the outdoor varieties into larger planters to be hardened off, in a coldframe, or under a cloche and the green house varieties should be planted in their green house beds or into 'growbags'.
When planting outdoors: When there is no longer any danger of frost is the correct time to plant your tomatoes outside. To give extra protection to your plants, cover them with a garden cloche or with horticultural fleece. Traditionally, gardeners in Mediterranean areas protected their tomato plants with two terracotta tiles propped together in the style of a pitched roof.
Plant supports: To support tomato plants, push stakes firmly into the ground at sixty centimetre intervals. so that each plant has enough space to grow. Then, at a distance of about ten centimetres in front of each stake, make your planting hole. Place each plant in a hole, angling them slightly towards the stake and gently firming the soil around each plant taking care not to damage the plant. Then water the plants. As the plants grow, tie the plants against their stakes to support them. It is best to do this regularly, particularly with cordon type tomatoes.
Creating water reservoirs: One way to make sure your tomatoes get enough water is to create a water reservoir (Tomatoes need copious amounts of water and they need it regularly). A way to help make sure they receive enough water
is to create a reservoir by sinking a small flower pot into the ground near the base of each plant support. Fill the flower pot with water each day until it is full and drains slowly into the soil next to the plant. There are other ways to produce a reservoir, you can remove the cap from a two litre plastic bottle, cut it in two
The fruiting vegetables are a tender group, happiest growing under cover but able to brave the great outdoors if given a very sunny, warm, sheltered spot.
Among this group, tomatoes are the most commonly grown. Home grown tomatoes have so much flavour compared with bland tasting shop bought ones, that growing them rapidly becomes addictive. Once you have started growing your own it is very difficult to go back to buying them.
and sink the neck in the ground; for example.
Tomatoes need regular feeding during the growing season, so these reservoirs can be used for the application of water soluble fertilisers. They can also be used for the application of liquid manures made from comfrey or nettles.
Use Mulch: Using mulch is essential for weed suppression and for preventing excess water evaporation.
Because of their volume, tomato plants need to be well spaced and by covering the soil at their base with
Rich, fertile and well drained, idealpH of 5.5-7. High phosphorous but
low nitrogen levels.
Pests & diseases
Slugs, whitefly, stem rot, tomato mosaic virus and botrytis can all cause problems for tomatoes.
Indoor plants need fortnightly feeds with a liquid tomato
Situate tomatoes either under cover or in a sunny and sheltered spot, preferably against a wall.
Pinch out the shoots and tips of cordon types, Support the plants as necessary. Mulch heavily to retain moisture.
Keep tomatoes well watered -especially those growing in
planters or hanging baskets,which will dry out more quickly.
straw, the foliage of comfrey, the foliage of nettle plants or a layer of chipped bark, upto five centimetres thick, you suppress weeds as well as helping to prevent the evaporation of moisture.
Staking your tomatoes: The natural trailing or climbing habit of cordon tomatoes means that most of them need support. By training them upwards they not only take up less area of the garden but they also escape the adverse affects of lying on damp soil. They are less prone to the diseases that are promoted by moist soil.
Hazel poles or canes of about a metre and a half in length are ideal as tomato supports. Push them into the ground near to the base of each plant. Then as the plants grow tie them to the plant supports using raffia or string. A way to make sure the stakes are stable is to arrange them into the form of a wigwam for the plants to grow up or even get yourself a garden obelisk for your tomatoes if you are growing them in an ornamental garden.