A report commissioned by B&Q, set out to identify home growers’ favourite crops. Up there, at number 1, with 47% of plots growing them: Tomatoes.
And whilst lettuce and potatoes came 2nd the % of plots growing them dropped to 23%.
So how should we look after our home-grown stars ?
April is all about Greenhouse Tomatoes:
If the soil is warm enough and cover provided when needed for late frosts, tomatoes can be planted out towards the end of the month. This sounds like good advice which builds on KG advice.
Although there’s been no frost for a few days here in a mild part of the UK, it’s been a cold wind that blows and difficult to imagine tomatoes flourishing in an unheated environment in just a few weeks time. So I think the advice on end of the month planting and providing protection is worth making.
Border soil gets addressed. The conclusion being, planting directly into the greenhouse border is once more becoming popular due to the option of using plants grafted onto soil borne pests and disease resistant rootstock. I’ve seen reviews and reports on grafted tomatoes but hadn’t made the direct connection to that type of plant bringing border soil back into vogue as planting medium.
Advice on knowing when plants are ready for planting out, is they should be stocky, thick stemmed and the gaps, between the leaves, up the stem, small. This is in contrast to thin weak plants on which the 1st truss of flowers higher on the stem. (Having the truss weight higher up affects the plants ability to support itself).
And guess which better describes my plants last year…I really want to work on seeing if stocky not leggy can be my watch word this year.
So a piece of advice to help me achieve that is to keep the root system slightly dry as this will result in sturdier plants which will be more likely to flower while young….
Was there ever a subject more vexed than watering and how much is too little and how much too much !?
I’m also pleased to pick up a handy term of reference… ‘Cropping position’. Previously I’d not settled on a single term for that final transplant. Now I’ve found one that descriptively fits the bill!
Advice given on how to transplant into the Cropping position is to plant deeper than in the pots the tomatoes are being moved on. This enables the plants to grow a larger root system as new roots will grow from the buried portion of stem. I did this last year, partly to overcome the legginess and it did work. Although it won’t over come the first truss having developed higher up the stem than is ideal.
The bottomless pots get another name check (see also tomato rings or ring culture). Last year I didn’t do this but will. As a method it gets too many mentions to ignore!
When the tomatoes are transplanted into their Cropping position they’ll need a good water to make them feel at home. Like us all, when they feel at home, they’ll spread out and establish roots.
And finally, whilst not yet featuring in top ten home grown crops, I enjoyed the article on growing your own peanuts. Start either by cracking the shell of a shop bought monkey nut and sowing it (nut inside cracked shell) or the serious grower can ‘shell out’ for a specific variety ‘ Jimmy’s Pride’ !