It won’t come as a surprise to many people who follow my feed, that one of my favourite vegetables to grow is tomatoes. I think tomatoes are so versatile and can be used in many different ways. I mostly try to eat mine fresh to get the most of the flavours and nutrients, whether that is in a salad, or even as a snack on its own. But, I also use tomatoes in cooking and add into delicious pasta dishes.
The other reason I love growing tomatoes is that there are so many different varieties – colours, sizes, shapes, flavours, textures, it keeps ‘growing your own’ fun and interesting!!
When do I sow tomato seeds?
I sow my tomatoes from mid to end of February. It is a little early to be sowing in Lincolnshire and many will leave it until March-April, but I keep my seedlings indoors on heat mats and under grow lights to give them that “extra growing time”. Once seeds germinate in their seed trays, I will transplant them into 10cm pots. They will stay in those pots until they will be moving out to their permanent homes when the risk of frost has passed, whether that is in the greenhouse, polytunnel or in my conservatory.
What do I do with my tomato seedlings?
I mostly grow cordon tomatoes, meaning I will train the tomato plant to grow on a single stem, whilst removing all the side shoots to keep energy in the main stem. I will support plants with a twine string by securing it at the bottom of the plant, and twisting the twine gently around the plant as it grows higher. The tomato plant will continue growing up over 2m in height in the greenhouse. This is until I will cut the tops of the plant around August to give any green tomatoes time to ripen before the end of the season.
You will notice I grow my tomatoes with basil and Marigolds. These are companion plants. Companion plants are beneficial to repel pests, attract pollinators, fill the empty space and keeps the weeds out as well. I also paired outside tomatoes with Nasturtiums and parsley to mix it up and keep growing your own interesting.
Personally, I think it looks beautiful and adds colour to your growing space!
I haven’t “officially” counted the number of tomatoes I am growing this year, but it is in the region of 100 different tomato varieties. The majority of which are new, but some favourites I carried over from last year as well. I grow mostly one plant per variety, unless it is a variety that I am particularly excited about, or absolutely loved eating and kept reaching for last year!
My TOP 5 favourite varieties last year included – Barry's Crazy Cherry, Black Beauty, Berkeley Tie-Dye Green, Kellogg's Breakfast and Gold Medal.
Some people ask me what do I do with all the produce? Yes, 100 plants are a lot. However, when you grow your own, your eating habits change. When a fresh and delicious basket filled with tomatoes is in front of you, you cannot help but reach for them all the time. I will eat them sliced, on their own as a snack (especially if it is a cherry variety), in a salad, on toast, the list goes on… In contrast to that, if I’d be buying tomatoes from a supermarket, a pack of 8 tomatoes could last me a week – it is not the same – they taste so different!
How do I water my tomatoes?
I water my tomatoes from the bottom avoiding water splashing onto leaves and the main stem. Too much or too little water can cause blossom end rot, tomatoes can split/crack and plants get stressed.
I water tomatoes slowly and deeply using a watering can or a hose. The frequency would depend on the need of the plant and the heat, especially in summer. I would water tomatoes every 2-3 days if the weather is cooler, I can leave it to once per week unless the plant starts to wilt and look thirsty. If not sure, feel the soil with your fingers – if it is moist it doesn’t need water!
This year I am excited to be using the Hozelock Multi Spray Ultramax with 7 different patterns to water my garden. Also, the very exciting news this year, is that I will be setting up a Hozelock irrigation system with drippers to water my tomatoes! There will be a lot more updates about it in May, but here is a sneak peek.
About the Author
Diana started @good_life_garden in January 2020 to engage and inspire others to grow their own, whether that’s vegetables, flowers or microgreens on your windowsill.
She wanted to show, that gardening is FUN and it doesn’t need to be hard work. It’s a lot easier than many people might think it is. She is excited to “upgrade” her watering systems and habits – starting with an irrigation system in her greenhouse and making her own natural feed using a Hozelock BioMix.