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In 2020 the British Tomato Fortnight takes place between 25th May and 7th June; the purpose of the fortnight is to emphasise British sustainable tomato growing techniques as well as taking care of the natural environments they are grown in. The fortnight takes place during the British tomato growing season, so it is the perfect time to ensure you are doing everything necessary to help your tomato plants have a good growing season.
Growing Tomatoes from Seed
If you are wanting to grow tomatoes from seed you will have had to have started sowing the seeds between January and March however if you haven’t done this you needn’t worry as you can purchase tomatoes as young plants in May ready to plant at home. Experienced gardeners who wish to grow a wider variety of tomatoes will likely grow them from seed. If you wish to do this you will need sow the seeds in 7.5cm pots of compost, making sure it is moist and topping with a layer of vermiculite and water. Then cover them will cling film and stand on a bright windowsill.
Once the seeds have germinated the clingfilm can be removed, but make sure to keep the compost damp. Once the seedlings are about 3cm tall they can be transplanted into 5cm pots and filled with multi-purpose compost. You should then keep potting on as needed and keep them on the windowsill.
Planting Tomatoes in your Garden
During British Tomato Fortnight at the end of May you should be moving your tomatoes outside. They should be planting into a border in a sunny and sheltered spot in soil which contains garden compost. Alternatively, they can be planted in 30cm pots or growing bags.
Looking After your Tomatoes
There are two types of tomatoes: cordon and bush. They both require different types of care, so it is important to be aware of this. For beginners, bush tomatoes may be easier to look after. Cordon tomatoes will need pinching out and tying to canes using soft string as they grow. Once the tomatoes start to show, the under leaves should be stripped away and once you see at least 4 clusters of flowers you can pinch out the growing tip. At this stage you should be feeding them weekly with tomato food and keep them well watered.
Bush tomatoes tend to grow all over the place naturally and don’t require much care aside from thinning out occasionally so the sun can get to the fruits and feeding and watering.
Once you begin to see naturally ripened tomatoes on your plants you can start to harvest them and store them at room temperature where possible for the best texture. You can then eat and cook with your tomatoes as you please; they are great when ate fresh from the garden or can be utilised in a number of different recipes; from cooking a fresh tomato sauce to paring with some fresh basil and olive oil for a beautiful bruschetta.
Posted by Matt Cook