More about growing Tomatoes

There are 2 main types of tomato plants, Upright also know as Cordon shown in the centre image above, and Bush tomatoes shown growing in the hanging basket..

Bush need little or no staking, which is a bonus. Some small varieties called Tumbling, as the name suggests, are sold as suitable for a tub or hanging basket which they are, but as containers grown plants they are more prone to drying out, especially on hot days. Irregular watering can toughen the skin and impair the flavour. Regular watering can be supplemented by using water retaining gel, but if you are seeking to garden organically be aware that it has chemicals in it. Bush tomato are shrub like in growth and need some support, a light cane will do. Overall, they are easier to grow then Cordon Tomatoes.

The other commonly grown tomatoes are Cordon which are upright in growth,  which as the name suggest grow tall up to 2 metres,  and will need supporting, especially when the fruits form.

Which variety to choose is a question of personal taste but remember the large, Beefsteak type, because the fruits are so large take longer to ripen. This means if your veg plot, or greenhouse is in an exposed area, or further north they may not ripen until late in the season.  For many gardeners the easiest tomatoes to grow to ensure plenty of fruit and not too much trouble are the cherry types and further below is information on the best varieties of Cherry tomatoes to grow to get a tasty, sweet crop. 

Common problems when growing tomatoes

Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of problems and diseases which can attack tomatoes.

Curling leaves caused by low night temperatures ideally the temperature should not fall below 15C,  this is aesthetic only.

Yellowing leaves can be a magnesium deficiency feed with proprietary tomato food. If it persists despite feeding, it can be too little or too much water.  

Problems with split fruit - literally the fruit splits caused by irregular watering. Given our variable weather regular watering is far from easy.

Greenback where the top of the fruit does not ripen fully caused by lower temperatures or lack of regular feeding.

Blight is the most serious and common problem and is often prevalent in a wet summer by which the plants develop brown patches and keel over the killer disease; you can spray them with proprietary sprays available from the garden centre but be quick off the mark, it can be too late by the time you spot the blight. If you don't want to spray, remove all infected leaves and dispose of not in the compost bin. Tomato plants grown in the greenhouse are much less susceptible to blight. If you want to grow tomatoes in an area prone to blight, ( the wetter parts of the country)  it may be better to grow in a greenhouse or lean to.  Blight is show in the image below left.

Halo Blight, which is small spots on the fruit surrounded by lighter rings and is a water-borne fungal disease. To minimise the risk avoid splashing the fruit when you water. See How to grow tomatoes section on watering.

Blossom end rot: unsightly black patches on the underside of the tomato fruit. Caused by irregular watering, and more common in container-grown tomatoes than outdoors.

Botrytis, grey mould which can also be a problem. To avoid this ensure as much ventilation as possible. Do not crowd the plants and open all vents and doors in the greenhouse.

Many types tomatoes need support and this is usually done by staking. The image below right shows how the wrong type of support can cause problems. Here the stem has folded over the support and is close to snapping. 

Tomato plant with Blight

Blight on tomatoes

Heavy fruit causing stem to snap

Tomato with broken stem

Best Types of Cherry Tomato to grow

There are lots of fabulous types of tomatoes to grow and those with the RHS garden merit award is always a good guide are:

'Sweet Million' a good all round variety

'Costoluto Fiorentino is  especially for children to grow as there are hundreds of tiny sweet fruit; 

The long-time favourite, 'Gardener's delight' which I  have grown many times unfortunately lost its RHS award of garden merit in the 2018 tomato trials.

'San Marzano Red Plum'- a  good plumcherry variety;

'Sungold' a small fruit variety with golden-coloured tomatoes; 

'Moneymaker' a reliable larger sized tomato.

Success with Tomatoes by The Sunday Gardener

success with tomatoes

For More advice on Growing Tomatoes

 

Help is at hand to avoid these various difficulties. To guide you through the  process of growing tomatoes in a concise, easy-to-read guide with illustrations throughout. 

The Sunday Gardener's guide "Success with Tomatoes" is  available  on Amazon in both e-book and paperback format, around 55 pages and 23 illustrations, packed full of information and the best tips on growing tomatoes.

You can look before you buy and keep it on your phone or tablet for reference when in the garden or greenhouse. Where to buy and preview