British Tomato Fortnight kicks off on Monday, May 24. With that in mind, here are some fun facts and top tips about growing your own tomatoes.
Five Fun Facts about Tomatoes
- Did you know tomatoes aren’t always red – or even yellow? You can get pink, purple and even black or white tomatoes.
- Tomatoes are the world’s most popular fruit, with bananas a close second and apples third.
- There is an annual festival is Spain called ‘La Tomatina’ , where crowds of people come together to throw tomatoes at each other – over 150,000 are used during the event!
- It is thought tomatoes originate from Peru.
- Tomato seedlings have been grown in space. Yes, really.
So, now you’re armed with some fun facts, why not have a go at growing tomatoes yourself? All you need to get started is peat-free compost and a sheltered, sunny spot.
Seed or seedling?
You can grow tomatoes quite easily from seeds. However, this needs to be done from late January until early March for best results. Growing tomatoes from seeds gives you the opportunity to try more varieties – and don’t worry if you’ve missed the opportunity to grow from seed this year, as you can still get a great crop with plants from your local garden centre.
What type of tomato plant?
When choosing which variety of tomato plant you’d like to grow, have a think about what kind of tomatoes you like to eat and use in your cooking. If you prefer to only eat tomatoes cooked in sauces, for example, you might want to stick to plum tomatoes. If you’re looking to add colour and sweetness to your salads, on the other hand, then cherry tomatoes are the way to go.
The other thing to look at when choosing tomato plants is whether the plant is a cordon or bush tomato.
Cordon tomato plants grow taller and will therefore need staking. You’ll also need to pinch out (remove side shoots) and the growing tip once four clusters or trusses of flowers have appeared. With bush tomatoes, you can pretty much leave the plant to do its own thing – just remove excess leaves so that the fruit can ripen with the warmth of the sun.
Where to plant tomatoes
Tomatoes will do well in containers and pots, as well as in the ground – they just need compost-rich soil. Once the last frosts of May have been and gone, your plants should thrive outdoors. If you’re thinking of growing tomatoes in your greenhouse, make sure you don’t let them get too hot. Consider companion planting them with basil, too – a heavenly combination!
Caring for your tomatoes
It’s important to water your tomatoes regularly; erratic watering can lead to the fruit splitting. Let the fruit on your plants ripen on the vine but should the weather take a turn for the worse, especially towards the end of the season, remove the trusses (groups of fruits) from the plant and let them ripen indoors. some people say popping a banana in a drawer with your tomatoes helps them to ripen – good luck with your growing!
Until next time…