Love Home Grown Tomatoes? Grow Your Own
Why Grow Your Own
Growing tomatoes is a worthwhile past-time, simply because home-grown tomatoes ALWAYS taste nicer than shop-bought ones. Buy some tomato seeds online from the comfort of your own home. Take your time and choose which variety will be best for your family.
Considering that every plant you have is going to produce several pounds of fruit (or are tomatoes vegetables?),do not plant too many seeds or else you will find yourself giving the surplus away to neighbours and friends, as well as having to spend a lot of money and time cultivating them. I have, myself, in the past, been known to plant an entire packet of seeds and ending up with something silly like 150 plants, each of which has to be carefully pricked out in larger containers, with some fresh compost, in order to be in a good state to give away!
Senseless really. It's much better to plant 3 or 4 seed of your chosen variety, because tomatoes have a very good rate of germination.
You can store your surplus seed at the bottom of the fridge for years to come.
Burpee tomato seeds
How to Grow Tomatoes
When growing tomatoes I always find it best to scatter a few seeds on the surface of a compost-filled pot and rake in so that the seeds are covered.
Water well, and keep in a warm and light place (not direct sunlight) until the seeds have sprouted.
Transplant the little plantlets into individual pots. Old yoghurt cartons are idea, just break a hole in the bottom for drainage.
Hold the plantlet by the leaf, NEVER by the stem. They can grow new leaves, but not a new stem. Use your fingers or a trowel to break up the soil underneath their roots, and gently move the hole plant into a compost filled pot in which you have already made a soil indentation into which you can place the roots and stem of the your shoot.
Place Your tomato plant in sunny position and water well, and within days sometimes this little plantlet will be outgrowing its new home.
It can now be transplanted into a bigger pot, else planted straight into its final home, whether that be a tomato growbag, a large pot or into a hydroponic system (if using hydroponics, dip its roots in a jar of water to remove excess soil).
Don't allow your tomato plant to dry out. Not only do they not like it, they wilt very quickly if not given enough water!
Quick growing tomatoes, expect your plant to reach a height of about 3 - 4 feet inside a month, so some form of support will be necessary, whether that be a cane, or a high tied piece of string that can be wrapped around points of the plant for support.
Remove the side shoots as they appear. They grow between the stems and the leaf branches.Some people leave them on for a bushier plant, but to me it weakens and makes the plant scraggly so I prefer to remove them.
Left on the plant they will form new 'heads' and will produce tomatoes. I think it is a better idea to remove and place in a glass ofwater where they will send out roots and make you a new plant which can then be placed in soil like the rest.
The tomato plants from offshoots seem to be stronger than the first plants that grew from seed, and their fruit will mature later to give you a longer growing season with your tomatoes.
When growing tomatoes, be aware that some tomato plants are affected more by whitefly and aphids than others. If this happens to you, you have the choice of ignoring them (which is not a good idea because the tomatoes get affected by the sticky secretions of these insects), treating with insecticide, else being really green and catching a ladybird to put with the plants.
Ladybirds eat aphids so they should be quite happy, however do not introduce a Harlequin Ladybird into your house or you may live to regret it.
Tomatoes will continue fruiting until autumn when the daylight hours shorten (spring in the case of those Down Under) and after that the plants die down.
If you grow a tomato you really like, save some seeds for planting next year. All but the F1 hybrid varieties should grow true to the parent.
F1 hybrid tomato seed packets are clearly marked with these words, so don't worry about not knowing what is or isn't.
If you do end up with more tomatoes than you can use, you can always donate to neighbours and friends, else find different ways of storing them.
Tomatoes can be frozen if they are quartered and de-seeded first. You cannot freeze a whole tomato - they are mostly water and when you defrost them you are left with a soggy heap.
You can make tomato into sauces for freezing or canning.
I especially like tomato frito which they make in Spain.
You de-skin and chop up the tomatoes, and fry them in olive oil for about 20 minutes till most of the liquid has reduced. Add some salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar, stir to dissolve and remove from heat.
When cool, place into containers for freezing, else can them using the seal-tight jars you can buy in the shops.
Tomato frito is delicious if before adding the tomatoes to the pan, you fry a chopped up onion and a bit of chopped garlic.
When you have finished reducing the tomatoes, put the whole lot into a blender to puree.
Varieties of tomatoes
There are so many new and old varieties of tomatoes available now that I haven't tried a fraction of them, but I'm sure they will all be delicious, and they seem to be available in all sorts of colours previously unseen.
In Spain, the so-called 'black' tomatoes are very popular, especially amongst home-growers, and the ones I tried were certainly very sweet and juicy. They weren't black either, which I thought was a strange name for them to have.
The black tomatoes are red like most of them, but had some black markings that looked like bad bits but surprisingly weren't.
When growing tomatoes, all you need are tomato seed and this guide, no matter the variety, to ensure a good crop of tomatoes this year
Growing Tomatoes Indoors
If your garden is too cold to grow tomatoes, and you don't have a greenhouse, simply place them in front of a sunny windowsill. They will need a shelf or piece of furniture to sit on, a large pot for each plant, else a tomato grow bag, but place a newspaper or something underneath to protect the surface they are on in case of drips.
Water well, and place canes to support the plants as they grow. Your indoor plants will be less likely to get attacked by aphids and such-like, and the tomatoes will be handier to pick and taste just as good as those grown under greenhouse conditions.
I grew mine exactly this way for years.