Sunday, 22 January 2012

How to grow tomatoes

 So, tomatoes. Usually started from seed around the end of Feb/March - potted on and either put into the ground or pots after the last frosts. However, they can be started quite early, put outside in a frost free greenhouse [if you haven't got greenhouse heating, use polystyrene fish boxes for insulation with fleece over the top]. They will grow very very slowly and then romp away once the warmth kicks in. I find that the advantage of this is a slightly earlier crop but a longer finish at the end of the season as they have been subjected to cooler temps at the start so cope with cooler temps at the end. 

So, I started some seeds off a few weeks back, and tipped the little pots out today.
 As you can see, even though the seedlings look a little leggy - they have decent sized roots - these ones today I guess have roots touching the bottom of the pot and are at an ideal stage for repotting.

Repotted by putting a small amount of compost in the bottom of the very small pot....and using the seed leaf only - seedling moved into the pot above the compost. Because I don't know how much compost each will take, and the seedlings are quite leggy - I have not filled the pot with compost and made a hole - but sometimes I do this and drop the seedlings in. 

If the seedling is too long to pot it up to its seed leaves -  I will bend the seedling stem around the inside of the pot as I fill it with soil - the ideal is to get the seed leaves at the top of the pot and the compost up to 1/4 of an inch/5mm of the seed leaves. Roots will grow from the stem so get as much anchorage into those little pots as you can.

And water in by placing into a tray of water and letting the soil soak the water up. 

About 1 in every 100 seedlings will grow 3 cotyledon leaves. It's not that rare, but always a joy to see. 

So, all these will be grown inside my kitchen until I select a few to carry on inside, and the others will go into the greenhouse as soon as the next 2 [the real] leaves have grown.

To increase stem strength - as soon as seedlings appear, blow on them gently to mimic wind movement. The thicker stem also seems to give better cold resistance when they go into the greenhouse.

Keep on the dry side of wet, these probably won't need water now for a week or so; but to determine if they do - don't just water indiscriminately....pick up the pots and if they are very light, soak in water for 30 mins then take them out. If they aren't then don't.

These are part of my Bush Tomato experiment, as mentioned on the Grapevine.

1 comment:

For The Record - VVG's Sowing and Growing in 2012 said...

I too blow on mine. I shall be potting mine on next week though - fruit week.