Everyone loves a freshly picked, sun-ripened tomato and growing your own is so easy from seed.
There’s a bewildering range of varieties of all shapes, sizes and colours available, with different flavour and texture experiences that can be used fresh in salads, cooking or making puree, so you can really get the varieties you really like.
With the new blight-resistant varieties recently introduced you can also grow them outdoors without the aid of a greenhouse with a greatly heightened chance of success.
Now’s the time to sow seed and get your plants underway to provide the longest cropping period, especially if you’re growing them in the favourable conditions of a greenhouse or conservatory.
Choose between cordon types, that have tall, vine-like growth which will need supporting on strings or canes, or bush varieties that are shorter, producing a multitude of shoots but will still need support particularly when crops swell.
Tomatoes are easily grown in glasshouse borders, growing bags, containers and whether grown indoors or out always respond well to even temperatures and humidity, watering and feeding, particularly in summer, when temperatures yo-yo.
Plants need to be kept watered and feed, particularly when the tomato crop is starting to swell and ripen to prevent cracking or splitting of fruit.
Under glass keeping the atmosphere around the plants airy, but humid, rather than dry, which also helps keep down pests, such as red spider mite and white fly.
Sow seed anytime now to late March. Either sow individually in 50mm (21/2in) cell trays or broadcast in a seed tray using peat-free compost. Lightly cover the seed and keep at a temperature of 18C (64F). When the seedlings have produced their first leaf or have started to fill cells, transfer into 4in pots and grow on, transferring to final positions when the roots fill the pot.
Harden plants off before transferring outdoors in June.
Best varieties to grow
RHS AGM winner. Best indoors. Glossy, dark-fleshed fruits of good flavour. Disease resistant. From: Thompson & Morgan tel: 0333 400 0033
Productive cherry variety for indoors and out. Moderate blight resistance. Tangy, sweet flavour. AGM winner. From: Kings Seeds tel:01376 570000
New dwarf outdoor patio variety. Small, sweet fruit. Good disease and some late blight resistance. From: Plants of Distinction tel: 01449 721720
Best outdoor blight and general disease resistant variety. Prolific crops of crack-free, sweet, tasty fruits. From: Mr Fothergills tel: 0333 777 3936
Step By step
Prick out seedlings when first leaves have appeared
Grow on seedlings in 4in pots before planting out
Keep plants evenly moist, 18C (64F) and feed weekly