Tips for growing better tomatoes

Harvesting a crop of ripe, juicy tomatoes is one of the highlights of the gardening year. To get the most from your plants, it pays to know which type you are growing and their particular requirements.

Discover eight tips for boosting your tomato harvests, below.

Advertisement

Sideshooting

On tall tomatoes (vines, cordons, indeterminates), pinch out the sideshoots that appear between the main stem and leaves every few days, to concentrate growth on fruit production. You don't need to do this for bush or trailing varieties.

Supporting

Large cordon varieties need a stout stake or other strong support. Keep typing the main stem to the support as the plant grows. Bush tomatoes benefit from a short central stake, plus several encircling canes connected with string, to keep fruit off the ground.

Watering

It's essential that tomatoes are watered regularly. Too little means fewer, smaller fruits and nutrient deficiencies, while too much 'dilutes' the flavour. An uneven water supply causes split skin, which can go mouldy. Water in the morning, pouring directly onto the roots.

Feeding

Regularly feeding tomatoes with a liquid feed makes all the difference to crop quantity and quality. Use a specific tomato fertiliser, or make your own using comfrey leaves. Avoid over-feeding as this can cause problems.

Greenhouse care

Excess sun and heat can lead to sun scald, scorch and poor fruit set, so keep the temperature at or below 25°C by putting up shading (netting, whitewash), ventilating and damping down paths. Ventilate during cool weather as diseases thrive in damp air.

Removing leaves

As cordon tomatoes mature, the lowest leaves turn yellow and should be snapped or cut off to improve air flow and help control disease. On all types, regularly remove any dead or yellowing leaves, without completely defoliating the plant.

Stopping

In late summer, cordon varieties should have the main stem 'stopped' (cut off) to avoid wasting energy on the production of late fruit that won't have time to develop. Let four fruit trusses form on outside plants (six on indoor plants), then pinch out the growing tip.

Harvesting

Ripe fruits come off easily when gently lifted and twisted. Don't leave ripe fruits on the plant or they'll soften, split and rot. At the end of the season, green fruits can be harvested and kept in a warm, dark place to ripen.

Advertisement

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

How to grow cordon tomatoes

How to ripen tomatoes on the vine

How to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse

Related offers

Offer

Save on tomatoes

Buy a collection of five delicious tomato varieties for just £6.99, or buy 10 plants (two of each variety) for just £9.99. Plus, save on a tomato growing kit when you spend over £10.

Order now

Offer

Subscriber only content

Save £6 on strawberries

Heavy-cropping mid-summer variety 'Sweetheart', and new late-season 'Cupid', together will produce an extra long crop of delicious strawberries. Save £6 on the collection with this offer.

Unlock now

Offer

Two free* blueberry plants

Claim two 9cm-potted blueberry plants, worth over £16.99, for free - *just pay £5.65 for postage. You can also add any other plants to your order and pay no extra postage.

Order now