What we learned in the first year of growing tomatoes

by Benedict Walmisley
(Wimborne, Dorset)

The most important thing to get right when growing tomatoes? The variety! Choose your variety carefully - some of the variants sold as being easy for beginners can turn out to be oddly coloured or taste strange.

Gardeners Pearl - avoid these like the plague, they were small, tasted horrid and were a unusual pink colour.

Red Alert - great tomatoes, very easy to grow but the crop did get heavy enough that the branches would break. This is a 'bush' tomato, so none of that annoying picking out the armpit leaves!

Golden Queen - a lovely yellow tomato, full of flavour. Grew well and yielded quite well. Definitely be growing this one again.

Black Russian - these produce quite impressive looking tomatoes and the plants are quite hardy. However they are susceptible to splitting if the watering isn't quite to their taste. We won't be growing these again.

If your growing in pots or hanging baskets I would advise using perlite in the soil to soak up water (that it then releases later). This will help the tomatoes cope if they don't get watered too often.

Dont forget, when you are potting your tomatoes up, to bury as much of the stem (below the first leaves) under the soil - this encourages the tomato to form additional roots that will help its thirst for water.

Blight is also a nightmare - if you have the time take off any discoloured leaves off the plants. I believe that this slows down the blight infection (as it starts in the leaves). Once the stem starts going black its time to pull that plant out completely and dispose of it. Blight is real menace if you live in a humid area.

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