Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow under glass
Sow outside
Plant outside
Harvest
Showing schedule for Southern England in United Kingdom

Soil facts and preparation

Quick facts..

  • Soil Type Fertile and Well Drained
  • Ideal Ph range 5.5 to 7.5
  • Site Full Sun
Requires fertile, well drained soil with lots of organic matter. Often grown in pots of compost or grow bags. Make sure pots have been thoroughly cleaned to prevent any possibility of disease in this seasons plants

If growing in the ground dig a hole 50cm in diameter and 50cm deep and fill with well rotted manure or compost. Create planting stations at least 1m apart.

The site you choose should be in full sun for the majority of the day, ideally south facing in the northern hemisphere and north facing in southern hemisphere.

To prevent the build up of pests, do not plant tomatoes in soil that has grown either peppers, aubergine (eggplant), potatoes or tomatoes in the past year.

Sowing and planting

Quick facts..

  • Germination 8 to 11 days
  • Sow 5mm deep
  • Sow Spacing 500mm
  • Rows 750mm apart
Sow 2 or three seeds into small pots or cells containing good quality compost. After germination and after the first true leaves appear, remove all but the strongest looking seedling.

If plants do not get enough light at this stage they can become leggy. Transplant into larger pots when the roots show at the bottom of their current container. Do this until it is warm enough both during the day and night to plant out in their final position, either in a large pot (min 40cm diameter) or their prepared plot.

Plant deeper on each transplant to encourage the plants to grow roots from the bottom of the stem.

Do not be in too much of a hurry to plant outside, tomato plants love the warm and will not tolerate a cold period however brief. It is best to very gently harden off the plants before moving them outside, do this for a week or so at least and do not expose to cold.

It is advisable to place a steak or cane before required so that roots aren't damaged at a later date

Growing a bumper crop

There are three main types of variety of tomato, determinate, cordon indeterminate, and non-cordon inderterminate.

Indeterminate varieties will need to be pruned and cordon varieties will neeed to be trained up a garden cane or steak (approx 2m tall) as the plant grows at approximately 20cm intervals.

Prune indeterminate varieties by removing what are called 'suckers', these are shoots that grow from where the leaf stems join the main plant stem. Ideally they should be removed when they are about 5cm long. The main stem of an inderterminate variety should be stopped from growing by 'pinching out' the growth of the main stem when the plant has developed 6 fruit trusses.

Water regularly to ensure an even level of moisture in the soil, if growing in pots this can mean twice on a hot day. Add a dilution of potassium rich tomato feed once a week. A top dressing of fresh compost once a month is benefical but not essential.

Harvesting the fruits of your labour

Quick facts..

  • Yield 5000g per plant
Harvest tomatoes when they bright red and eat as soon after picking for the very best flavour. The smell and taste of a home grown tomato really is infinately better than any bought at a shop.

Your comments and photos

Tomato varieties

Ailsa Craig

Popular for many years this very tasty variety produces classic looking tomatoes of uniform size and shape. Trusses bear heavy crops of disease resistant fruits. Suitable for growing indoors or outside.

Big Boy

As its name suggests this is a big one. Large, smooth round fruits great for slicing. This is the variety for the barbeque! Needs plenty of time to grow to full size so sow early and feed well.

Cuban Black

Tasty black tomato variety, fruits are slightly flattened on the top and are typically smaller than most other beefsteak varieties. Treat as Indeterminate/cordon tomato plant and train single stem up cane or steak, for best results, remove sucker shoots and pinch out the growing tip when 4 trusses have formed. As with all beefsteak tomato varieties, a longer growing period is required as well as regular feeding.

Fandango

Indeterminate/cordon beefsteak hybrid variety that produces very large deep red fruits. Fruits are smooth and spherical and have a very sweet taste. Keep soil moist at all times and feed well to prevent split or deformed tomatoes. Originating in Spain and bred to be tolerant of blight and resistant to fusarium and verticilium wilt, Fandango is widely grown commercially.

Gardeners Delight

Medium to small sized fruits with great flavour. A reliable variety that produces heavily laden trusses

Money Maker

Popular traditional variety, heavy cropping medium sized fruits. A reliable cordon variety with good resistance to blossom end rot.

Red Alert

Bush variety of with small fruits that are quick to mature. Can be grown outside in most temperate climates as well as in the green house.

Tigerella

Tigerella tomatoes are an heirloom variety originating in England. When they have ripened they are red with yellow or light green stripes. This variety should not just be thought of as a novelty, Tigerella is actually a high yielding variety with great flavor. Fruits grow to approximately 5 cm in diameter and the flesh is dense and firm, making it a great tomato for slicing. Tigerella is an indeterminate variety (rather than bush) which means it needs to be grown up a cordon or steak. Pinch out the growing tip of the plant when 4 or 5 trusses have formed. Ideally suited for growing in a green house in cooler climates, if growing outside let leave just 3 trusses. Early to mature with a long cropping period and particularly disease resistant, Tigerella is a great all-rounder and with the added bonus of its striking appearance. One thing to note is that the colors and size of this variety tend to vary in different parts of the world.

Tumbling Tom

Great bush variety with small sweet fruits. Tumbling toms are great for growing in containers and look particularly good in hanging baskets. Smaller cherry varieties need less growing time so can be sown later than medium and large varieties.