Sowing and Planting
Sow 2 or three seeds into small pots or cells containing good quality compost. After germination and after the first true leaves appear, remove all but the strongest looking seedling.
If plants do not get enough light at this stage they can become leggy. Transplant into larger pots when the roots show at the bottom of their current container. Do this until it is warm enough both during the day and night to plant out in their final position, either in a large pot (min 40cm diameter) or their prepared plot.
Plant deeper on each transplant to encourage the plants to grow roots from the bottom of the stem.
Do not be in too much of a hurry to plant outside, tomato plants love the warm and will not tolerate a cold period however brief. It is best to very gently harden off the plants before moving them outside, do this for a week or so at least and do not expose to cold.
It is advisable to place a steak or cane before required so that roots aren't damaged at a later date
Growing a Bumper Crop
There are three main types of variety of tomato, determinate, cordon indeterminate, and non-cordon indeterminate.
Indeterminate varieties will need to be pruned and cordon varieties will need to be trained up a garden cane or steak (approx 2m tall) as the plant grows at approximately 20cm intervals.
Prune indeterminate varieties by removing what are called 'suckers', these are shoots that grow from where the leaf stems join the main plant stem. Ideally they should be removed when they are about 5cm long. The main stem of an indeterminate variety should be stopped from growing by 'pinching out' the growth of the main stem when the plant has developed 6 fruit trusses.
Water regularly to ensure an even level of moisture in the soil, if growing in pots this can mean twice on a hot day. Add a dilution of potassium rich tomato feed once a week. A top dressing of fresh compost once a month is beneficial but not essential.
Harvesting the Fruits of Your Labour
Harvest tomatoes when they bright red and eat as soon after picking for the very best flavour. The smell and taste of a home grown tomato really is infinitely better than any bought at a shop.
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