How to grow tomatoes – tips for growing and harvesting tomatoes

Top 10 Facts About Tomatoes

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Tomatoes can be easily grown, and just a couple of plants will reward you with plenty of fresh, delicious tomatoes throughout the summer. Sow them indoors, then plant outdoors in a sunny but sheltered spot, or even inside a greenhouse. And the best thing is, there’s so many varieties to choose from. Heritage, beef, cherry or plum are just some of the wide array of tomatoes out there, and they can all be easily sown and grown in any garden.

How to grow tomatoes

For best results when growing tomatoes outside, go for trusted favourite varieties like the ‘Gardener’s Delight’ or the ‘Money Maker’.

Alternatively, if you’re growing tomatoes in hanging baskets, opt for the likes of ‘Cherry Cascade’ or ‘Tasty Tumbler’.

Wait until about six to eight weeks before the last frost is forecast, usually around March and April in the UK, and sow as directed on the seed packets.

The seeds should be sown in pots about 7.5cm in size.

When the young vines reach about 15 or 20cm in height, the flowers of the first truss are just beginning to open up and the risk of frost has gone, it’s time to plant the young vines.

If you’re planting in the ground, make sure to dig plenty of garden compost or manure during the winter.

Just before planting, rake in a general purpose fertiliser to feed the tomatoes – they tend to be very hungry plants.

Plant the tomatoes about 45cm apart, leaving 75cm between the rows.

If you are growing them in special grow bags, limit the number of plants to just two and remember they will need extra water and care.

To save space, grow your outdoor tomatoes in hanging baskets or upside down.

Simply plant a young tomato plant through a hole in the bottom of a bucket or similar hanging container, and fill with multi-purpose compost.

Suspend the bucket from a bracket and let the plant dangle freely beneath it.

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When should you harvest tomatoes?

Tomatoes emit ethylene gas as they grow, produced by fully formed mature green tomatoes.

Inside the mature green tomato, two growth hormones change the colour and cause the production of ethylene.

This ages the cells of the tomato fruit and results in softening and reduction of the green colour – instead turning to red.

The ethylene works by increasing the carotenoids (red and yellow colours) and decreases the chlorophyll (green colour).

Thanks to this process, tomatoes are one of the only grows that can be picked before it’s completely ripened.

Start picking your tomatoes as the fruit ripens and gains its full colour.

When frost looms at the end of growing season, lift any plants with unripe fruit on them and hang them under cover and upside down.

Tomatoes can be successfully frozen if you have too many of them in your harvest.

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