Tomatoes have got to be one of the most rewarding crops to grow. With a little effort, you're guaranteed a harvest of juicy tomatoes, with a flavour far superior to shop-bought tomatoes.


If you're worried about being short of time, fear not – you can still grow and enjoy tasty tomatoes with little effort, even in pots and growing bags. In fact, tomatoes grown in growing bags and watered once weekly produced the biggest harvest, in our magazine watering trial.

Discover our top tips for getting a delicious crop of tomatoes with minimum effort, below.

Prepare your soil

Take time to fork manure and compost into your borders and greenhouse beds before planting to help conserve water through the growing season.

Forking compost/manure into the ground before planting

Grow in large containers

Choose as large a container as possible, if you’re growing tomatoes in a pot, to give your plants as much compost, water and nutrition as possible.

Planting a young tomato plant into a large container made from an olive oil canister

Use good-quality compost

Use a good-quality compost, such as John Innes No. 2, that won’t shrink or clump and will allow water to easily reach the plants’ roots.

Pouring good-quality compost from a plastic trug into a planter

Mix in water-retaining gel

Mix water-retaining gel into the compost before planting to increase its ability to retain water and to cutdown on the amount of watering needed.

Adding water-retaining gel to compost before planting

Mulch your tomatoes

Mulch, particularly plants in pots, to conserve water in the soil – use gravel, pebbles, bark or compost.

Mulching around young tomato plants

Keep them well ventilated

Keep plants grown indoors well-ventilated – avoid overheating and keep air circulating by always opening vents on warm days and not overcrowding plants.

Opening vents beside plants on a warm day

Water plants at the base

Water the plants directly at the base rather than over the foliage, to ensure that the water gets to the roots where it is needed and doesn’t cause fungal diseases.

Pouring water from a can onto the base of tomato plants in order to keep the foliage dry

Water thoroughly

Always water thoroughly. This is more important than watering every day and is definitely better than little and often.

Soaking the base of tomato plants bearing fruit with a hose

Use automatic irrigation

Use automated irrigation systems to make watering easier if you are away from home a lot or pushed for time. They allow water to drip slowly onto the plants’ roots, often as part of a timer system.

A slow trickle of water to plants roots from an irrigation system

Avoiding tomato blight

Prevent losing your crop to tomato blight by keeping tomatoes dry if planted outdoors, ventilated and by choosing blight resistant varieties like 'Lizzano' and 'Jasper'.
Wooden garden trug