The tomato is one of the world’s most popular fruits. This (usually) red-coloured fruit is used to make many of the world’s most delicious dishes and it can be very easy to grow. Tomatoes need a warm atmosphere and a good deal of sunshine to grow, so summertime is the best time to grow tomatoes in the UK. That said it is possible to grow tomatoes in colder climates like the UK. We’ve put together 10 tomato growing secrets that will help you to grow great tasting tomatoes at home.
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Why you need our Tomato Growing Secrets
Normally tomatoes need great sunshine and heat in order to grow to their best potential. A warm environment is essential and tomatoes that are grown indoors in colder climates tend to have less taste as they’re grown with the assistance of chemicals and / or artificial light. Growing tomatoes when it’s colder or in the winter needs time and effort, and in return, you will get delicious tomatoes. Here are some of the best secrets for growing tomatoes in colder weather.
10 Secrets for Growing Tomatoes
There are a few key requirements when it comes to growing tomatoes successfully and once you have these down you’ll have no problems growing tomatoes – here’s our guide and 10 secrets to growing awesome tomatoes.
Tomato Growing Secret 1: Tomatoes Need Light
Our first secret to growing tomatoes requires a lot of light. During winter in the UK, sunlight is not sufficient to grow and ripen your tomatoes. Tomatoes require large amounts of sunlight, especially in their early stages of growth. You’ll need to try and get 10-12 hours of artificial light to a young tomato plant to allow it to grow rapidly. Once it starts to mature then a greenhouse (read our mini greenhouse guide here) will help it grow further and produce fruit. You can start tomatoes off inside and move them outside for the summer season.
You won’t need artificial light if you’re growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, just remember to water them as they can dry out quite quickly, especially when they are fruiting.
We use collected rainwater as much as we can, when that’s not possible, we use a space saving expandable hoses – check out our guide to expanding hoses here.
Tomato Growing Secret 2 – Getting Your Tomatoes off to a good start is easy
Whether you’re growing tomatoes from seeds that you’ve saved from tomatoes or from tomato seeds that you’ve bought, you want to give them a good start. An easy way to do this is to use a paper cup, or a coffee filter or a cardboard egg box. Add a small amount of compost, sprinkle the compost with tomato seeds (one per cup/filter/egg slot). Gently water. After a few days, you’ll see sprouts coming through. When the size of the tomato seedling is about 2-3 centimetres then you want to cut away excess paper cup/filter paper or cardboard egg container and plant it in a pot. If you’re not using tomato grow bags (or an oblong container), then you’ll have better success with pots if you only plant one tomato plant per pot. Read about the best compost to use for vegetables including tomatoes here.
Tomato Growing Secret 3: Plant the seed quite deeply
As we’ve mentioned Tomatoes need a good warm environment to grow, so you’ll want to sow the tomato seeds (and young plants quite deep in your compost – meaning that the seed and young plant get the insulation of the compost or soil. When you transfer your tomato plants to either their own pots or a grow bag – in what will be their forever home, be sure to put your supporting stake not too close – you don’t want it hindering the growth of the tomato plant.
Tomato Growing Secret 4: – Keep the compost warm in cold weather
Tomatoes grow better in a warm environment. If you’re in a colder climate, then the soil takes some time to warm up and this will stunt the growth of your tomatoes. To increase the heat of soil or compost, just cover the plant with insulating material while is it seeding and growing. Don’t just think about the temperature of the soil during the day, but also at night as well.
Tomato Growing Secret 5: Pick Your Growing Spot Carefully
From the beginning – well from the point when your tomatoes have progressed into their forever homes, you’ll want to choose a place where there is enough sunlight. A tomato plant will flourish the best if it gets 8-10 hours of sunlight a day. Tomatoes are a fast growing veggie – want more of those? Here’s our guide to the easiest fast growing vegetables to grow.
Tomato Growing Secret 6: Give Tomatoes their Space!
In order to produce a good harvest, your tomato plants need a lot of nutrients (which is one of the reasons that we’re feeding them right?) and this means that they need enough space in which to live and grow. This is a key secret to growing large tomatoes. So when you’re growing tomatoes in pots or in containers or bags you need to make sure that your plants have enough compost or soil around them. This compost is brilliant for tomatoes. You can grow 3 or 4 tomato plants in a tomato grow bag – our guide to the best tomato grow bags is here.
Tomato Growing Secret 7: Get the Stake in Early
In order to give your tomato plant the support that it needs – those fruits are going to be heavy for it then you’ll need to keep your soil moist (don’t let it dry out) and you need to use a supporting stake. Tomato support stakes can be bamboo, or twigs or sticks, they don’t need to be fancy. But they do need to be inserted into your pot early on. Too late and you run the risk of slicing straight through the roots of the tomato and that will not end well for your growing season. It’s best to put the stake in when you move tomato seedlings to their forever home. Remember, not too close, this plant is going to grow bigger. If you’re using gardener’s string to attach them to the stake, then do NOT tie them too tightly. Leave it relatively loose then you can adjust as the plant grow.
Tomato Growing Secret 8: Grow different varieties of tomatoes
There are many types of tomatoes – you shouldn’t stop at just growing one variety. You’ll find that tomatoes are sensitive to heat (as in they like it!) and watering conditions (you need to keep a steady program of watering them). Experiment by growing different varieties of tomatoes in order to work out what’s best for your garden, yard or greenhouse. If you’re particularly impatient, then make sure you go for fast growing tomato plants!
Tomato Growing Secret 9 – Water = Life
Your tomato plant will need water on a daily basis. Sometimes tomatoes will need watering twice a day, especially when the temperature is high. Don’t wait until your tomato plant starts to wilt. No matter how good you are to your tomato plants they will have dread branches. Just cut them off, there’s no point your tomato plant giving them any more energy when it’s obvious that they’re dying. You can leave them in the base of the plant pot, they will rot down and provide additional nutrition. Obviously, remove them if it looks like they have pests or some form of rot on them
Tomato Growing Secret 10: Feed your tomato
This probably isn’t a secret unless you’re an absolute beginner. Tomatoes need food in order to give their best tasting harvest. Ensure that you have a steady supply of water – we check morning and evening. You’ll also want to feed your tomatoes. The general rule of thumb is to follow the advice from the tomato feed manufacturer – but you should feed little and often. Water the compost around the base of the plant. You’ll want to be careful, especially when it’s hot, not to water the leaves or the fruit, as this will help the sun to burn your plant. Once your fruits have set, then you’ll want to feed twice a week with a liquid specialist tomato feed.
Our favourite recipes for using tomatoes in
- Amazingly fresh tabbouleh salad
Final Words on the Secrets to Growing Tomatoes
We love growing tomatoes, they taste so much better than those bought from the store. And there is something just so nice about taking them off the vine and eating them soon afterwards. Tomatoes can be easy to grow, they need a few items in order for that to happen and a few little touches to make them flourish. We hope you’ll have success in growing tomatoes with our tomato growing secrets and that the homegrown taste is worth it!LetsGrowCook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates..