07 Sep Hello. My name is Sarah and I’m obsessed with my tomatoes…
Seriously. I have a relationship with my tomatoes, like nothing else in the garden and they know it. When the tomatoes are ready to eat, it’s frankly brilliant. A homegrown tom tastes like they do in the med and they are well worth the wait, but boy do they take some fussing.
Things to fuss about…
Not enough water or drainage ~ in fairness no plant likes this.
Too much water ~ doesn’t make for very tasty toms and you’ll get soggy roots and oedema.
Irregular watering ~ toms will split.
Not enough feeding ~ use a high potash feed once you can see small toms.
Too cold ~ leaf curl.
Not enough sun ~ toms won’t ripen.
Irregular temperatures ~ leaf curl.
Prune ~ you have to remove side shoots constantly.
Support ~ they can’t support themselves at all, so get the twine ready.
These are just the things under our control, we haven’t even talked about pests and diseases, such as Septoria Leaf Spot, Anthracnose, Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt, Blight… it’s no wonder we are able to grow tomatoes at all.
Last year I didn’t have a good year with tomatoes and it hit me hard. I was waiting for a new potting shed, so I started them too late and it went down hill from there. But even Monty had a bad year last year with tomatoes, so I took some solace in that and planned ahead, like all gardeners.
This year I grew outdoor tomatoes for the first time, and I’ll never go back. I’ve got a right bumper crop, they are on spectacular form and I even have my favourite tomato. I’ve been watching it from it’s early days, like a proud mum.
Here it is..
Constant support, feeding and worry. But we love it really…
Things I know about growing tomatoes
They take ages. From the moment the first seedlings grow, the dreams are big and you just have to be patient. About five months of patience.
They are the thirstiest plants in the garden, so need regular and consistent watering. You especially need to water consistently once you can see toms, as if you let them dry out and then flood them the tomatoes will split. Also water the soil, not the plant and preferably in the morning. See told you they are fussy.
They will keep you guessing. With so many diseases to look out for, they do keep you on your toes, looking for leaf problems or signs of early rot.
They need feeding, loads of support and preening. Feed every 1/2 weeks once the fruit starts. If you have a bush or tumbling variety, they don’t need pruning but most varieties will need pruning to remove any side shoots to keep to one chunky stem.
Big rewards. These attention seekers will keep you on your toes, but come July/August you’re in for a treat and all your hard work and worry will be worth it.
A special thank you to Andrea and Emmanuel, who without their holiday watering I would have no tomatoes at all! x
Apparently there are over 7,000 varieties, so I think it’s fair to say I have some way to go…
Red Alert (Small) ~ Bush, so ideal for containers or short of space.
Super Marmande (Beef) ~ Stunning tom to cut on big juicy slices.
Koralik Red Cherry (Small) ~Lovely small vine toms.
Coeur-de-Bue (Beef) ~ Beautiful colour.
Brandy Wine (Beef) ~ Mr Popular, and really flavoursome.
Indoor or very warm spot
Gardener’s Delight (Small) ~ Family favourite.
Perfection Yellow Cherry (Small) ~ Nice and friendly.
San Marzano (Plum) ~ Italian, so like it warm. Good for pasta sauce.
“Of plants tomatoes seemed the most human, eager and fragile and prone to rot.”