Growing tomatoes outdoors

by Pippa Greenwood

I don't often grow tomatoes outdoors, but this year I planted out leftovers from the greenhouse, which became massive and hugely productive.

Close-up of Pippa Greenwood holding a handful of freshly harvested red and yellow tomatoesThis has been the best year for tomatoes in recent memory. I crammed 14 tomato plants into my greenhouse border, ignoring the advice of several knowledgeable friends to plant a maximum of eight!

We've been feasting on tomatoes for weeks, regularly visiting people loaded with large punnets of the things. All the varieties I've grown this year have performed extremely well; even the beefsteaks, which often produce just a few fruits, all inclined to split. The numerous cherry varieties are positively laden with fruit, and the standard varieties have fruited so well that some of their stems have ruptured.

I've seen the most impressive results outdoors, though. I don't often grow tomatoes outdoors, but this year I planted out leftovers from the greenhouse, which became massive and hugely productive.

The best-performing variety has been 'Sakura', with truss after truss of smooth, thin-skinned fruits; undoubtedly the best outdoor variety I've ever grown. So much depends on the variety you choose to grow (where would I be without 'Sakura', 'Gardener's Delight' and 'Scatalone'?), but my success this must be attributed to the weather. Our freezer will be packed to bursting this year with fresh tomato pasta sauce.

In my view it is so much easier to grow tomatoes in open ground or in a greenhouse than in a growing bag, and the results are so much better. I might just start a campaign to outlaw the cultivation of tomatoes in growing bags. As far as I can see there are no advantages to the process, and it seems to produce really miserable-looking plants. Yes, they might be useful if you don't have open ground or a garden, but surely a large pot full of proper, good quality compost is a better option?

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Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2010 at 17:20

I'd agree, I did mine in potato bags outdoors but I think they would have done better in the ground. I had alot of watering to do even if it had rained all night, the bags would dry out by lunch time. I'm getting a steady crop of gardeners delight and cherry toms (It was a lottery what seedlings got to grow as my 2 year old son took all my labels off when they were tiny seedlings! Next year they are going in the flower bed in a sunny spot.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2010 at 17:46

After the disastrous blight which affected both potatoes and tomatoes last year, I decided to put most of my tomato plants in big pots lining my unused drive. Great crops from all of them - the medium being half and half garden soil and J.I. 3 with a little horticultural grit for extra drainage. My "Tomato Terrace looks good as well and the freezer is filling up. It's Murphy's Law of course that we had no blight and the potatoes which were confined to the back garden are all giving great crops.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2010 at 17:49

I always plant mine in the borders, it's so much easier than messing about with growbags and pots. I know some people who place growbags on their soil borders, to grow vegetables in??????

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2010 at 18:44

blighted last 2 yeras so no go this, got prob with Acer defoliated. gutted so still think blight spores in our area toms hit by blight even in green house 2 years back.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/08/2010 at 04:48

we've tried tumbler for 1st time this year, good early crop but not as sweet as old fav gardeners delight also had stalwart money makers both inside and out with both decent cropping .

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