Site Preparation: Every autumn in the greenhouse I add well rotted manure to the border and then in the spring I put a slow release feed into the soil before placing a 15L pot with the bottom removed half into the soil. Next to each pot half submerge a 2L pop bottle or similar with the bottom cut off and the cap removed.

Sowing: Sow seed into individual modules (2 per module) of compost in mid February on a sunny windowsill with a propagator lid covering the seeds.

Potting On: Once the seedlings fill the modules with roots they can be pricked out and put into 5" pots of compost. When doing this the seedlings can go into the compost right up to the bottom of the seed leaves (I find that this gives for a sturdier plant and a chance for more roots being formed off the main stem)

Planting Out: When planting out push a bamboo cane into the border soil before planting so as not to damage the roots of the plants. Water in thoroughly and fill the pot to the top with compost . Ensure the bottle in the soil is kept topped up with water throughout the season. The general rule of thumb when planting tomatoes in the greenhouse is one plant per window (26").

Growing On: Mist the plants and gently shake the plant to distribute the pollen from the flowers. Feed once a week with a general feed until the first fruit start to form and then change to a high potash feed. Regular tying in off the main stem to the bamboo cane will help support the plant when it is fully laden with fruit. Also regular removal of the side shoots that grow between the axis of the leaf and fruit branches will concentrate the strength of the plant to the main stem.

Harvesting: When harvesting the fruits remove the calyx as well as the fruit to ensure the fruits stay fresher longer. As each branch of fruit is emptied remove the leaves below the next lot of fruit right into the main stem to allow more light to the ripening fruit.

Pests and Diseases: The number one disease tomatoes suffer from is blossom end rot which is totally avoidable with a good watering regime.
  • Leaf Roll - Check watering regime
  • Split Fruit - Check watering regime
Split Fruit
Blossom End Rot

Varieties: The following are the varieties i have used with notes on the performance of each one.
  • Shirley - Classic tomato variety, tried and tested good all rounder.
  • Gardeners Delight - Another classic, good all rounder.
  • Sungold - Orange cherry type, Sweet, Widely available
  • Roma - Plum variety, difficult to grow in a cordon system
  • Moneymaker - Popular, easy to grow, medium sized fruit.
  • Red Brandywine - HUGE, good flavour, heavy cropper.

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