Success with Tomatoes

A lot of people get to this time of year and ask me what to do about their over grown rampant tomatoes, and why do they never get ripe toms. So I hope this post helps.

There are 2 types of tomatoes

•Cordon or indeterminate
•Bush or determinate
These require different training and support. Bush varieties are best grown in pots or hanging baskets and allowed to spread and hang their fruit trusses.
On the other hand cordon varieties need a bit of regular maintenance. The aim is to have one central stem trained up to 2m (7ft). So they need some support. Tie to canes or twist around string.
Canes
•Push or hammer 2m (7ft) wood or metal stakes at least 45cm (18″) into the ground
•Plant 5-7cm (2-3″) from each stake.
•Loosely tie the main stem of each plant to the stake with a short length of twine.
String
Fix the string to the ceiling and plant under the plant or tie loosely to the stem. Then as the plant grows gently twist it around the string. Quick and simple support.
Once the support is sorted the next thing is side shooting. This is where people loss confidence, but if not done plants put their energy into growing too much foliage which blocks the light and reduces air flow, stopping your fruit ripening.
Watch this video and learn how.
Flowers
Flower trusses grow out of the main vertical stem, not out of the elbows of the vertical and leaf stems. Allow 5 trusses, then pinch out the growing point at the required height to divert energy into ripening fruit.
Watering
Regular watering is needed. For pot plants once a day or more in hot weather. For plants in the ground it is best to give lots every few days, rather than a little everyday. This encourages roots to grow down to search for water, and keep the surface the the soil dry reducing evaporation that creates a humid environment (see blight below).
Removing leaves
Once the plants start developing fruit and perhaps the first ones are ripening, this is the time to remove the lower leaves up to the first truss of fruit. This allows more light into ripen the fruit, it increases air flow (reducing the risk of fungus), and it puts the energy of the plant into fruit rather than old leaves.
Problems
•Splitting – caused by irregular watering
•Blossom end rot – lack of water caused calcium deficiency
•Greenback- too hot, lack of water and potassium
•Blight- fungus triggered by 3 days of high humidity, travels on the wind (also effects potatoes)
Feeding
•Mulch with organic matter (well rotted muck, compost, wool, woodchip)
•Feed with blood, fish & bone
•Top dress with wood ash (high in Potassium)
•High potash liquid feed from flowering (make your own comfry liquid feed)

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