Tomato fever is set to take the UK by storm this spring, no it’s not another emerging virus, there’s a brand new virtual gardening community launching that aims to get more people growing their own tasty toms together.
After being confined to our homes from spring 2020 many people took to their gardens to sow and grow as a form of escapism, as a result, there are now an estimated 3 million active gardeners in the UK.
Determined to help more people grow their own veg, two popular Instagram growers, Joe Harrison (@grow_with_joe) and Lisa-Marie Elkhadraoui (@lisamaries_kitchengarden) put their heads together to create the Tomato Club.
So far more than 2000 people have signed up to join national the grow-along, which is sponsored by natural gardening brand Empathy and starts on 6th March 2021.
Membership is free and each member receives a tomato growing guide, weekly tips to their inbox, live Q&As, details of the best products, discounts and more, all for free. To join Tomato Club’s national grow-along click here.
Joe and Lisa’s tips for getting started
- Have a think about how you like to eat your tomatoes? Do you like to enjoy them raw or cooked? Maybe both? Does a cherry tomato tickle your fancy or maybe a big beefsteak variety? This almost certainly should influence your final seed choice.
- Think about where you will be sowing your seeds; heated propagator, windowsill, unheated greenhouse etc, as this will impact when it’s a suitable time to sow them.
- Rather than shop-bought plastic pots to sow your seeds in, why not get creative and use some up-cycled containers otherwise destined for the recycling bin.
- Consider your final growing position and how much space you have. Will you be growing in pots, greenhouse, grow bags, raised beds?
- Get yourself a few tall bamboo canes, some peat-free compost (or perhaps some coir) and a good quality compost nutrient booster such as Empathy’s Tomato Starter.
Tomato growing tips
- It’s a good idea to ascertain what type of tomato plant you’re growing; whether it’s a cordon variety (also known as indeterminate) or a bush variety (also known as determinate). Establishing this will ensure you know the preferred growing conditions and the correct way to care for your plant.
- Ensure your plants get plenty of direct sunlight; tomatoes will thrive if they have around 8 hours of full sun each day. If you don’t have somewhere which is bathed in quite as much sunlight, don’t worry, you can still grow tomatoes but keep in mind that the less sunlight your fruit receives, the longer it will take to ripen.
- It’s really important you have a regimented watering routine. Tomatoes like to be kept moist and will not respond well if allowed to dry out between watering. Water your plants first thing in the morning before it gets too hot or early in the evening.
- Providing your plants with adequate support such as bamboo canes is a must, especially when growing cordon varieties (single stem). Branches adorned with lots of fruit can be extremely heavy and will cause your plants to topple over and snap if they’re not adequately supported and secured with ties.
- The soil you planted your tomatoes in will only have enough nutrients to sustain your plant for a limited period. Left unfed, your plants can be more prone to pests and diseases, will produce fewer fruits and won’t be as tasty. With this in mind, introduce a regular feeding routine every 7-10 days with a good quality tomato feed such as Empathy’s Tomato Feed.
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