GROW THE PERFECT TOMATO outdoors

The one requirement needed for growing tomatoes is sunshine. They are,tender plants and will not stand any frost, and if grown without protection they need a warm sheltered site – a south-facing wall or fence is ideal.

Well-cultivated soils improved by the addition of well-rotted manure are best for tomatoes. Any proprietary potting compost in containers or grow bags is ideal.

VARIETIES

Cordon Varieties

These varieties are grown on a single stem. They must be

trimmed, supported and stopped after the fourth truss has

set, so as to hasten ripening before the autumn frosts.

Variety

Outdoor Girl’

Early ripening, heavy cropper, good flavour.

Sweet 100’

Cherry-sized fruits, delicious flavour, heavy cropper.

‘Gardeners Delight’

A heavy cropper with bite-sized good flavoured tomatoes.

Marmande Large irregularly shaped fruits. Fleshy with few seeds.

Bush Varieties

The bush varieties take two forms:

1. A 30 – 75 cm (1 – 2 ½ inch) bush.

2. Creeping plants less than 27 cm (10-½ inch) tall. They require no stopping, supporting or trimming. Can be difficult to harvest as the fruits tend to be hidden.

Variety

‘Pixie’

‘The Amateur’

Small compact bush. Small fruits of good flavour.

Red Alert’

Early cropper, excellent fruit flavour.

45 cm (1 ½ inch) bush produces medium-sized tomatoes. Heavy cropper.

‘Alfresco’

Vigorous, high-yielding and with good disease resistance.

Tiny Tim’

A dwarf bush variety. Cherry-like fruits which are bright red and seedless.

Hanging Tomatoes

An interesting way to grow small-fruited varieties is in a hanging basket. ‘Tiny Tim’ and ‘Whipper-Snapper are ideal for this purpose. Plant 3 plants in a 40 cm (16 inch) diameter hanging basket.

Sowing Instructions

Sow the seeds indoors in March/April. If you sow too soon the plants are likely to be checked from cold, as you may be forced to plant out when the night temperature is still below 10°C (50°F). Use a good seed compost, and sow seeds approximately 12 – 25 mm (½ – 1 inch) apart.

Prick out seedlings individually into 87 mm (3 ½ inch) pots full of potting compost such as J.I. No. 1 (prick out when the first 2 seed leaves have unfolded). The plants should be 15 – 22.5 cm (6 – 9 inch) high when planted out. You should aim to produce short, sturdy, dark green plants. Avoid drawn plants.

Planting Instructions

The soil should be well-cultivated; add to it well-rotted manure, e.g. J.I. base at 135 gm/sq.m (4 oz/sq.yd).

Plant in late May in early areas and early June elsewhere. Insure that the plants are well hardened off. Space the plants 45 cm (18 inch) apart and 75 cm (30 inch) between rows.

Feeding

Start to feed every 10 – 14 days when the plants start fruiting. Equal parts of dried blood and sulphate of potash make a good top dressing. There are many proprietary tomato fertilisers available, e.g. Bio liquid Tomato Food.

Watering

Water regularly and avoid allowing the soil to dry out. This will cause blossom – end rot or fruit splitting.

Support and stopping (cordon varieties)

Cordons will need support. A 120 cm (4) cane or stake is ideal. Remove every sideshoot which forms at the joint between leaf and stem. If these sideshoots are not removed, they will tend to grow away vigorously at the expense of the adjacent flower truss.

Bush Variety Routine Work

Mulching with straw or plastic sheeting helps to keep the bottom fruits clean and keeps the surface roots cool and moist.

Harvesting

Pick the fruits when they are ripe and fully coloured.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Greenfly/ Whitefly Leave a black sticky mould on leaves and fruits. Spray with insecticide, e.g. resmethrin. (Predators are available for use under glass.)

Western flower thrip Predators are available for use under glass.

Blight Especially bad in wet weather. Eventually kills foliage. Spray with Dithane, repeat spray every 2 weeks.

Grey mould Usually starts on damaged area of plant. Infected flower stalks cause fruit drop. Cut out diseased areas and dust with carbendazim. Avoid overcrowding, remove decaying leaves and fruits.

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