Tomatoes are a half hardy vegetable that give the best results when grown in a glasshouse or polythene tunnel. That said, if you have a sheltered warm spot in your garden or allotment, you can try growing them outdoors. There are two types – bush (or determinate) and cordon (or indeterminate).
The bush varieties require little staking but don’t yield as well as the more traditional cordon types which require both staking and side shooting. Bush types are possibly more suited for containers or pots and would recommend the cordon type for the vegetable garden. Outdoor tomatoes are raised under protection and planted out in June when all frosts are gone.
You can propagate your own plants or more conveniently buy them in at planting time. Sow 1-2 seeds in a 8 cm pot sometime in April, about 8 weeks before your chosen planting date sometime in June. You require a plant density of about 4 per m2 so space them at 50x50 cm and put a 1.2 m stake beside each plant.
As the plants grow they will have to be tied into the stake and the little side shoots that develop in the leaf axils need to be removed by snapping them off when they are about 3 cm long. Tomatoes are heavy feeders so they would be a good crop to receive manure or compost and when watering apply a liquid feed as standard. Pinch out the growing point in August two leaves above the last flower truss – this is to get the plant to put all its energy into developing and ripening the fruit before the first frosts of autumn.
Gardener’s Delight (cherry), Sungold (cherry), Sweet Apertif (cherry), Alicante (round), Ailsa Craig (round), Ferline (beefsteak)
Blossom end rot (calcium deficiency)