A nice clear and concise guide to germinating and growing tomatoes from seed planting through to enjoying the harvest
Tomatoes are easy to grow from seed, can be grown in any size garden that has a warm sheltered area, and are extremely rewarding.
Most tomatoes in the UK though are grown in greenhouses or polytunnels, mainly due to our fantastically reliable weather! That said, outdoor ripening fruit are well worth the wait. There are varieties of Tomato seed that are suitable for indoor or outdoor, and even some bred for growing in hanging baskets or pots.
One thing is true though, and that is no matter which type or variety you decide on, they will all need fertile soil, sun, heat, water and food, if they are to produce a nice juicy fruit come harvest time.
Sowing the seeds
Ideally label and fill a 3 inch pot with lightly firmed compost, and water. Scatter the seeds thinly as most of them will germinate be careful not to over sow at this stage. Place the pot on a windowsill or warm light shelf to germinate, and within 2 weeks, you should see seedlings, and they will be big enough in around 8 weeks to move on to individual pots.
Move on by gently holding the seedlings by their leaves and carefully moving them out with the help of a dibber or such like. Make a hole in the new pot already filled with firm and watered compost and gently lower him in. Firm around the plant making sure the roots are covered, then add some more water, just for luck!
When the roots start coming through the drainage holes, pot on to a 5 inch pot before the final move to the growing bag.
Moving into Growing Bags
Once the first branch of flowers have come, then it is time to move your tomatoes to a growing bag. Make sure first that the compost in the bag is broken up enough, so give it a good kicking and punch it, finally knead it nicely to ensure it is broken up. This is strangely satisfying in a caveman sort of way.
Punch some holes in the bas of the bag to allow drainage, and cut out the planting square (these should be already marked for you). Scoop out enough compost so that the top of the root ball is beneath the top of the bag, cover it with compost, firm it and water it. Did I mention that Tomatoes love water? Put a growing bag frame over the bag, and place a cane next to each plant, and with it secured, tie the plant to the cane every 100mm or so.
Ideally tomato plants grow on a single stem (unless you are growing a bush tomato so snap out any shoots that grown in leaf joints, and once your plant has produced four or five trusses of flowers, pinch out the growing tip. Doing this will ensure that all the growing energy is put into producing fruit rather than plant growth. You also need to feed once a week with fertiliser, and water daily, did I mention tomatoes love water?
The key to all of this though is in choosing the right tomato plant for your growing conditions, oh, AND plenty of water (did I mention that?)