Henry’s Summer Garden: Plant tomatoes this summer!
Henry’s top tomato tip is: “treat em mean – keep em keen!”
When? Summer. The plants should fruit all season.
What? You can plant from seeds or plants. Seeds take longer and there is is the risk you can get some asexual plants, which don’t produce flowers/fruit.
Where? Tomatoes like a sunny position with free-draining soil, not clay (this means slightly sandy soil). Growing the plants alongside a fence, or somewhere where you can coil the branches upwards with garden twine is best.
It’s good to plant tomatoes near a flowering plant that attracts bees, such as lavender. This will help the tomato flower pollinate and become fruit. If you want to help them along and don’t have flowering plants nearby, do what the greenhouses do and “stimulate” the plants by gently shake the branches to release the pollen.
Watering? Tomatoes originated in the rocks of the Andes which means they’re used to downpours of rain, followed by dry periods. Water tomatoes only in the mornings when possible and avoid watering at night. Wait until they look thirsty before you feed them (don’t bee alarmed if they look a bit droopy during the day).
Maintenance? Stake the plants when they’re young to prevent them snapping in the wind. As they grow taller, use twine and coil the branches around it to encourage them upwards in the right directions.
You can choose to have small, bushy plants (these will have a smaller lifespan and produce smaller fruit), or taller plants. Commercial greenhouses only allow the plant to have between 2-4 branches (which can grow up to 15 metres!). You can create taller plants by snipping out shoots as they grow (pictured). Mr Henley recommends giving them the snip! Only leave 4 branches and you’ll have a tall, healthy plant with large fruit!
What else can you plant in summer?
- Rocket and lettuce