Growing tomatoes is so much fun! Tomato plants will grow happily in a sunny border or in large containers of peat-free compost.
There are two types of tomatoes – cordon and bush tomatoes. Cordon (also known as indeterminate) tomatoes can form tall plants, reaching 2m or more! Don’t worry – you can ‘stop’ your plants from growing any taller by simply pinching out the tip of your plant’s stem, when your plants have reached your desired height.
Once you’ve ‘stopped’ your plants from growing any taller, instead of increasing in size, your plant will focus its energy on ripening the tomatoes that are already in development on the plant. Consequently, only ‘stop’ your plants when your plants have attained their maximum height, or when you want your plant to focus its energy on finishing producing its existing fruit before the end of the season.
To grow cordon tomatoes successfully you need an effective support. I’ve found the best way to support my tomato plants is to build a simple wooden frame to slot over the tomato plants. Then, I use a long length of strong twine to support each of my tomato plants (see my Twine Trial to discover the strongest twines). I gently loop one end of twine around the main stem of my tomato plant, underneath the lowest pair of leaves. Don’t tie the twine too tightly, as your plant’s stem will thicken over the summer. Then I tie the other end of the same length of twine to the top of my wooden support frame above to create a vertical length of twine. As my tomato plant grows, I twirl the twine around the plant’s stem; this takes only a moment of my time and thankfully doesn’t require me to have twine, scissors, or anything else to hand. Most importantly of all – this method of supporting tomato plants is practical, quick, and very effective.
If you’re growing cordon tomatoes, it’s important to remove the side shoots that form in between the leaf joints. Regularly removing your tomato plant’s side shoots will allow your plant to concentrate all of its energy on tomato production instead of side shoot production.
Tomato seeds can be expensive. Don’t discard your plants’ side shoots – as these can become free tomato plants. If you’re in a rush, pop your tomato side shoots in a vase of water and wait for your tomato cuttings to root before potting them on into pots of peat-free compost. Alternatively, remove your side shoots and pot them straight into containers of peat-free compost. Move the container into the shade and keep your plant’s compost moist while the roots are developing.
Whatever plant you’re growing, a good quality compost will make all the difference. Compost can be transformative both in terms of your plant’s health and appearance, and your eventual harvest. Last year, I trialled Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Tomatoes for the first time. This compost is a complete all-in-one organic, peat free compost and fertiliser. If you use this compost, you won’t need to bother with any additional fertiliser, as Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Tomatoes provides all the nutrients tomato plants need.
In 2018, I sowed my ‘Honeycomb’ tomato seeds in seed trays full of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Seeds. These seedlings were potted on into containers of Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. Finally, the tomato plants were potted into containers of Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Wool Compost. No fertiliser was used. The plants received all their nutrients from the composts they were grown in.
In 2019, I trialled growing my ‘Honeycomb’ tomato plants in seed trays of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Tomatoes. As before, my tomato seeds were sown in seed trays of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Seeds; then the seedlings were potted on into containers of Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. Finally, these tomato plants were potted into containers of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Tomatoes. Again, no fertiliser was used.
I was delighted to discover that the harvest of my container grown ‘Honeycomb’ tomato plants improved by 256% in 2019, when I used Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Tomatoes! Naturally other factors, for example the weather and temperatures the tomato plants experienced each year were different, but I was thrilled to gain such a significant increase in harvest.
The harvest from the ‘Honeycomb’ tomato plants that were grown in the ground and mulched with Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Tomatoes had their harvest improved by 54% in 2019 (compared to the harvest achieved by my ‘Honeycomb’ tomato plants in 2018 – when the plants were mulched with Dalefoot Composts Double Strength Wool Compost).
This article was first published in the May 2020 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
Other articles that may interest you………..
To read about the best flavoured cherry tomatoes from my Tomato Taste Trial and the top performing composts for tomatoes in my Tomato Compost Trial, please click here.
For gardening advice for May, please click here.
For gardening advice for June, please click here.
For gardening advice and to discover what lovely things you can do in your garden or at your allotment from mid-May to June, please click here.
To see inside my Vegepod and discover what I’ve grown inside this container gardening system, please click here.
To see photographs of the gardens and plants at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019, please click here.