Gardening: Homebase shares tips to help grow tomatoes
There’s nothing better than a sweet, juicy tomato in summer picked directly from the vine. They make the best additions to summer salads and can be used to make rich passata and hearty tomato soups.
Just growing a couple of tomato plants can reward gardeners with lots of fresh fruit throughout the summer season.
While growing tomatoes is easy, starting tomato plants is one of the harder aspects of the plant as they can easily die off if they’re exposed to cold temperatures too early on.
Daniel Carruthers, from Cultivar Greenhouses, has shared some advice for growing tomatoes this season exclusively with Express.co.uk.
Daniel said the “ideal way” to start off a tomato plant is growing them under glass.
He explained: “Not only will the warmer climate help them germinate, but it will also protect the plants from the fungal spores of blight.
“To grow tomatoes, start by filling your small pots or trays with peat-free compost, water, and leave it to drain.
“After the water has drained through, sprinkle your choice of seeds evenly over the surface of the compost and cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite.
“Put the newly sown seeds inside a polythene bag, wrap with cling film, or pop them in a heated propagator to maintain an even temperature for germination and place them in a sunny spot in your greenhouse or on a warm windowsill.
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“As soon as the seeds have germinated, and you can see the seedlings growing out of the compost, remove the plastic covering and allow them to continue to grow in a warm place indoors.”
Gardeners will know when seedlings are ready to be potted on when they are at least three inches tall and have their first true leaves.
True leaves are the second set of leaves that appear. These will appear about 10 to 14 days after germination.
After a few weeks, seedlings should be large enough to be potted on again or potentially moved to a cold frame to harden off.
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Daniel said when the last frost date has passed – which is usually in May – the plants can be moved outside or put into individual pots.
They can also be put into raised beds or planters with well-prepared soil.
Daniel added: “Choose a sunny but sheltered spot to protect crops from any unexpected extreme weather conditions.”
Tomato plants like soil that is rich and free-draining but also moisture-retentive.
Adding garden compost to soil or to the ground where they are going to be planted should help.
They also like soil that is rich in nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The only soil they will not thrive in is heavy clay soil that is compact making it difficult for plant roots to grow.
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