Tomato Plants Cultural Guide

Maintain a Minimum temperature of 10 to 15 Degress C

All our tomato plants have been grown indoors in a greenhouse, so are not use to the cold outdoors during early spring, so keep them in a temperature that wont drop below 12 degrees C. A conservatory, greenhouse, or even a sunny windowsill will suffice until the weather warms up.

Some of our plug plants are surrounded by a net, this keeps the compost in place, which will decompose over time. DO NOT remove this net as doing so will damage the roots and kill the plant.

Getting the best from your little tomato plants takes a bit of effort. It is best to pot up your plants into a succession of slightly larger pots, than to go straight for a big one. You don't want little plants sitting in boggy compost, which will happen with a large pot and a small plant.

Pot up your plants in a small pot, to start with, like 6 or 7cm (No bigger), using a good quality compost that has been riddled to remove large bits. To this add some sharp sand or perlite, etc at the ratio of 80% Compost - 20% Sand, perlite, etc. This helps drainage. water once potted up, do not water again until the compost has dried out. On subsequent waterings, make sure the compost dries out again before watering. This encourages good root growth and stops the plant dying from overwatering.

When the plants roots have filled the pot, pot up into a slightly larger pot, say 1 litre, then do the same but next pot size is 3 litre, then into its final pot size of around 10 litre, or bucket size. I am not a fan of grow bags, as this will not allow you to do this very well. Pots are a much better place for tomatoes, and you can create your own compost.

Feel free to feed your tomatoes once a week at half strength during early stages, as this will help keep your plants nice and green. feed full strength once a week once the first lot of fruit starts to show. Once you have 3-4 trusses packed with fruit, I feed 3-4 times a week, as usually its quiet warm now, and the plants are quiet large and actively growing. During hot sunny days, you might also need to water your plants of a morning before going to work, and again when you return. On very hot days, I also stand the pots in a tray, saucer, and half fill these with water, after watering, before leaving for work. the plants will draw it up if they need it.

Do not plant outdoors too early, the ground is really cold in April, and the longer they stay in a large pot where it is nice and warm the better.

Storing Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes at home is one of the things in life that you really should do, as the effort is returned to you, with not only the best tasting tomatoes in the world, but because you pick and eat them, they are really fresh, which means they are packed full of good things for your body. Did you know tomatoes are one of the few items that smash up your high cholesterol ?

Varieties that are good for storing have not existed, until now !

At the end of the season, most people are left with a glut of green tomatoes, not knowing what to do with them. You can make chutney, remove the skins and freeze them, makes sauces, bottle or freeze, or bring them indoors to ripen. However, the last option, sometimes means you end up throwing most away if not eaten quickly, as they don't last.

We now have a variety called "Winter Wonder", which store really well. Eat as many red ones as you like and still enjoy that tomato taste, but store the green ones, at the end of the season, for eating later at Christmas. All you have to do is find a cool place for storage, around 10 deg C. Wrap each one in tissue paper, so they don't touch and put them in an open top cardboard box from your local supermarket.

Winter Wonder tomatoes are storage tomatoes grown specifically to be stored so they can be enjoyed throughout winter. Winter Wonder are a semi-determinate tomato that only take 78 days to harvest. The fruit is left on the vine, and harvested before any frost when it is green, or better, pale pink and stored at 10 deg C, in a shed, garage, etc. They are then bought out of storage when required and allowed to ripen for a few days in a bowl at room temperature. A banana placed in the bowl will help with this. If you don't have a colder place for storage, then it is possible to store indoors, in a room that has no direct sunlight, that is cool. Everyone must have a cool place like this. Store at room temperature until ripened into a red orange about one and a half to three months post-harvest.

To make the most of this variety's long-keeping properties, we would advise you buy a second lot of plants from us, to plant around May/June to ensure a large quantity of green fruits hanging on the vine in October. These should be picked complete with calyx (the little green 'spider' at the top), wrapped dry in soft tissue and stored at around 50ºF (10°C).

Throughout December, January and February, transfer the green fruits to a fruit bowl as required, take off the tissue and place a ripe banana or apple amongst the green tomatoes. At a temperature of 70-75°F (21-24ºC) they will ripen over a period of about two weeks and have the taste of summer tomatoes.

No more horrible tasting supermarket tomatoes over winter !