Gardening: Homebase shares tips to help grow tomatoes

Monty Don wrote: “Tomatoes are coming up to their prime harvesting period but to extend this and make sure that all the current green tomatoes fully ripen over this coming month or so, there are a few things the tomato grower should do now.

“The first is to strip off the bottom half of the leaves on each plant. This will let in light and air so that the growing fruits get more sun and also the extra ventilation will reduce the risk of disease.

“This process can be continued weekly until there are no leaves left at all.”

Tomatoes are susceptible to various different diseases, including blight which is more prevalent in warm, wet weather, causing collapse and decay.

It can be a very serious disease on outdoor tomatoes in the garden so make sure to strip off the bottom half of the leaves regularly.

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Monty added: “Also reduce the watering unless it is very hot to avoid the fruit splitting but keep up a weekly feed of liquid seaweed, or, if you can make it, a homemade comfrey feed.”

Areas of the UK are currently experiencing a very wet summer and so additional watering of tomatoes will most likely not be necessary.

If you can, make sure to protect the tomatoes to avoid them from becoming damaged by heavy rain or winds.

According to Monty, a weekly feed can help to “maximise flower and fruit production”, making the tomatoes taste extra tasty too.

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Tomatoes ripen best when the temperature is between 26C and 30C, meaning some gardeners may find their tomatoes will ripen later this year, or not at all.

Gardeners do have the option of picking tomatoes early if there is more bad weather planned because they can ripen in a drawer.

Firstly, pick the tomatoes either individually or on the vine. Then, place them in a drawer with a banana and “they will ripen and turn red”, according to the expert.

The banana will release ethylene, a hormone associated with the ripening of fruit, which will help to speed up the process of ripening.

Apples also give off the same gas, but bananas tend to work better and are cheaper to use in case they go bad.

Make sure to remove the fruit as soon as they have ripened otherwise they could soil so check the drawer regularly.

To check whether the green tomatoes are mature before picking, gardeners can cut one in half. If the inside is a yellow colour and has a sticky tissue around the seeds, it is mature enough to ripen.

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