Tomato PruningA top tomato growing tip – how and why you prune out the suckers that start to grow in a leaf axle, i.e. the spot between the leaf and the main stem.

The ‘why’ you prune out the suckers on a tomato plant is relatively straightforward, they take away energy from the main tomato plant that could be better utilised elsewhere. So by pruning out tomato plant suckers you are helping the plant flourish and produce more fruit that ripens.

The term ‘pruning tomato plant suckers’ is a little bit of a mis-representation because what you are really doing is pinching out the suckers with your thumb and forefinger. You just take a firm grip on the sucker, twist and pull removing the sucker from the stem of the tomato plant. A good time to do this is when the plant is still quite young and when you are putting in some stakes or other form of tomato growing support. If you prefer to actually see a demonstration of how to prune tomato plant suckers then have a look at the video below. It is a very quick look at the technique as demonstrated by Doug Green. Read More

Tomato CareAssuming you are at the stage that you have got your plants planted, whether that is in the soil or in some sort of container and remembering to make sure that you do not put them in too early risking exposure to frost (not good), you will need to start thinking about ongoing care.

Bush type tomatoes (determinate tomato plants) grow to a set size and don’t really need any staking or pruning.

Vine plants (indeterminate tomato plants) on the other hand will need both pruning and support. There are many ways of supporting them and a popular method is to use tomato cages, but using stakes or string is equally effective. Whatever way you choose, make sure that the individual trusses are properly supported as the plant grows and take off any side shoots that appear, especially near the ground, to keep the growth under control and direct all the nutrients and water to the fruit bearing trusses.

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Growing tomatoes from seed will not only save you lots of money, but will also give you a great feeling of self satisfaction when the little individual plants start to pop up out of the compost. This video is a little on the long side but does give you all the information you need to start tomato plants from seed all illustrated in easy to follow steps.

*Top Tip* – the best temperature to germinate tomato seeds is 16C (60F) and the ideal temperature for plants is 18C (65F) and 21C (70F).

I think everyone knows that one of the most important ingredients any garden needs, whether you are growing tomatoes or any other vegetable for that matter, is a good supply of well rotted compost. Purchasing compost from a garden centre or store can become a little expensive and for most people really isn’t necessary.

Recycling garden and kitchen waste is a great way of providing compost in ample supply and making a compost drum to enable you to do this couldn’t be simpler. The video below describes exactly how you can go about making a compost drum for the garden using a plastic trash can as the base.

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Growing tomatoes in raised bedsThere are several advantages to growing tomatoes in raised beds, many of which are similar to growing tomatoes in containers. If you think about it a raised bed is a form of container, it is just a container on a slightly grander scale, a little like a growbag or a large pot.

The main advantages of growing tomatoes in raised beds

  • You can more easily control the mix of the soil and utilise compost specifically suited to growing tomatoes
  • The plants are generally easier to access for staking, weeding, watering, pruning and pest control
  • The soil tends to warm up more quickly than non-raised beds
  • Its easier to apply a mulch to aid contamination prevention, supplement feeding and keep weeds down
  • You can avoid standing on the soil causing it to compact
  • raised beds tend to be free draining and do not get over saturated
  • the soil can easily be dug out and replaced should any contamination occur. This should be done on an annual or bi-annual basis in any case
  • Feeding the tomato plants is much more targeted and effective, follow the instructions on the feed of choice or as a rule of thumb you can apply a high nitrogen liquid tomato feed around once a fortnight
  • Pests are less likely to infiltrate a raised bed but when they do they are easier to deal with

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Caring for TomatoesTomato growing season for many will be in full flow right now, so this is exactly when you should be taking measures to prevent your crop from being affected by disease or being attacked by pests.

Pest Control for Tomatoes


Ideally you should start caring for your tomatoes early in the season, if you prefer organic methods you should be thinking of getting some companion plants in around your tomatoes that will deter common pests such as greenfly and aphids. Garlic is a good choice for this, or if you prefer flowers then lavender is also a good deterrent. Other choices are herbs such as sage or thyme.

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Growing Tomatoes from SeedFor growing tomatoes from seed you need to be thinking about sowing tomato seeds about 6 to 8 weeks before you expect the last frost of the year to occur or when you would like to be putting your plants into their final growing position.

From a temperature perspective the best temperature range for sowing tomato seeds is between 15ºC and 25ºC (60ºF to 77ºF) you could probably get away with 10ºC (50ºF) overnight but you would need to cut back on the watering a little to take account of the lower temperatures.

Equipment
You can either purchase Seed Starting Trays and equipment or alternatively you can use items like yogurt pots or egg cartons to get your tomato seeds under way. If you already have pots or seed trays available and want to reuse them then make sure that you disinfect them first with a mix of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water to ensure that you remove any contamination.

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One of  the most important aspects of tomato growing is selecting a location for your plants that will allow them to flourish.

Dwarf Tomatoes

Tomatoes need plenty of sunshine and a good rule of thumb for ensuring they get enough, is to find a spot in your garden that sees a minimum of 6 hours of sunshine a day. Some will argue that tomatoes need as much as 10 hours of sunshine a day and if you have a spot that can deliver that amount of sunshine then it certainly wouldn’t do any harm; assuming of course you don’t allow the plants to dry out.

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Sep 03

Tomato Plant Problems

Posted by Brian in Tomato plant problems

Many of the most common tomato problems actually originate from just 2 causes: -

  • erratic watering
  • erratic temperatures

These 2 causes are often responsible for a whole range of problems with tomatoes: -

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Ripening tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes

As with all vegetable growing, the one stage that every gardener awaits with eager anticipation is when the plants start to produce ripe ready to eat produce, this is when you can start to reap the rewards for all of your effort. Waiting for your tomatoes to ripen is no different to any other garden product.

Problem is tomatoes can sometimes be a little tricky and hang on the vine not looking at all like the lovely red tomatoes everyone aspires to.

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