Growing Tomatoes at the Allotment

Growing Tomatoes at the Allotment

Tomatoes are classed as a fruit although we tend to eat it with a salad or as a savoury ingredient, however they can be very sweet and juicy, and they come in a wide variety. 

Do check your variety seed packet instructions for sowing, growing and harvesting. There are many tomato varieties that differ in size, shape, texture and taste as well as the method in which you grow them. Some will grow into tall plants and others are bushy or trailing. Therefore, some may be suitable for large containers and others in a hanging basket or trained to grow. You may decide to grow them within the added warmth of a greenhouse or outside during the summer.  

To sow your tomato seeds, sow thinly in small pots or a modular seed tray. Sow a few in each pot or section as you can thin out keeping the stronger seedlings later on.  They will need to be in warm and moist compost, and it is best to grow the seedlings within a propagator or a lidded seed tray.  Cling film can work just as well!  

Once the seedlings grow, you will need to re-pot them, giving them their own individual growing space.  They will need plenty of light and warmth.  They may even require re-potting again before being transferred to their permanent growing place, which may be a grow bag, large container or soil bed. 

As the plants grow taller, they will require the support of canes. Also, pinch them out so that the fruit benefits from the nutrients more so than extra foliage. 
The plants require consistent watering, if you experience a dry spell and then drench them, this results in the tomatoes splitting and other common problems can occur. Once the plants start to flower, misting them can also aide pollination. 

Your tomato plants will require some feed that is rich in potassium once the fruits begin to form.  Once per fortnight should be sufficient. 

Keep pinching out your plants and monitoring the support in place. The plants may require further help when they are heavily weighed down with fruits. You may need to keep training your plants dependent on the variety you are growing. 

As your plants grow and bear fruit, be mindful of some problems that can occur such as aphids, tomato blight and blossom end rot. These problems usually occur when conditions are not ideal. Tomatoes are easy to grow if they have good sunlight, warmth and consistent watering. 

Tomatoes will form, grow and ripen from green to a rich and juicy, plump red during the summer months. They will be easily picked off when they are ready and go a deeper red as they ripen more so. Early ripening will be firmer and a light, orange-like colour. 

If you are waiting for tomatoes to ripen towards the end of the plant's life, you may want to pick them and place on a sunny windowsill indoors to help them. 
Tomatoes are delicious eaten freshly picked and if you have a large glut, you can make soups, sauces and chutneys too. 

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Growing Tomatoes in Summary

Sowing Tomatoes

  • Check for the variety you wish to grow
  • Sow indoors with plenty of light and warmth
  • Thin out seedlings

Growing Tomatoes

  • Give plants support
  • Consistent watering and regular feed
  • Watch for signs of disease

Harvesting Tomatoes

  • Pick when plump and ripened during mid-summer onwards
  • Refridgerate
  • Use surplus for sauces, soups and chutneys