Gardening: Homebase shares tips to help grow tomatoes
Choosing the wrong variety
Tomatoes come in various different types, each with their own characteristics and purposes, which means they will need different care.
Josh Novell, Polhill Garden Centre’s director, explained: “It’s important to select a tomato variety that matches your climate, available space and personal taste.
“For instance, certain varieties are more resilient against pests and diseases, and some are better suited for growing in containers or hanging baskets.”
Not planting at the right time
Gardeners should not plant their tomatoes too early or too late in the season as this could create two problems, damaged by frost or damaged by heat stress.
The best time to plant tomatoes is after the last frost date in your area, when the soil temperature is above 15C.
Not planting deep enough
The gardening expert said: “It is recommended to plant your tomato seedlings at a suitable depth in the soil, allowing only the top two or three sets of leaves to remain above the soil surface.
“This helps your tomatoes grow upright and also improves their overall health and nourishment.”
A lack of support
To prevent tomatoes from becoming too weak, gardeners should provide them with extra support such as stakes, cages or trellises.
Gardeners should also prune their plants regularly to remove any side shoots which will help them to put energy into producing fruit rather than foliage.
Not enough sunlight
Tomatoes are plants that thrive in warm seasons, requiring sunlight and heat to survive and thrive.
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The gardening expert said: “Ideally they should receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day. If your tomatoes are not getting enough sun, they may grow spindly to be able to reach the sunlight.
“They are also more likely to suffer from diseases in the shade, as they may not dry properly after watering which means they are more likely to develop fungal diseases such as mildew or rot.”
Not pinching side shoots
Tomatoes can be classified into two different types, determinate and indeterminate. Josh explained: “Determinate tomatoes have a compact growth habit and yield a single crop of fruit at the end of the season.
“On the other hand, indeterminate tomatoes have a vine-like growth pattern and produce fruit continuously throughout the season.
“To ensure optimal fruit production, indeterminate tomatoes require regular pruning to remove the side shoots that grow between the main stem and branches which will produce larger and healthier tomatoes.”
Not removing these side shoots will “weaken” the tomato plants, and even lead to a loss of fruit.
Depending on the weather and soil conditions, tomato plants need regular watering and even watering to prevent cracking and splitting whilst avoiding the leaves at the same time.
It is important to keep tomato plants moist, not allowing them to dry out too much, but also not drowning them in water.
Josh noted: “You should water your tomatoes deeply and thoroughly once a week. You can also mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and prevent weeds.”
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