Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Silicon - Supplement for Tomato Plants

Silicon as a supplement for tomato plants has a number of benefits that are well known in the hydroponic world of growing, but not as widely used as many other supplements.

For the home gardener, silicon is almost completely unknown - but that's a pity because silicon can be used to protect plants - especially those growing outside and enhance their performance too.

My visit to the Home Grown Expo at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry was fun and informative - there's always something new to learn and new products to try out and test on my plants. One of these is Solar Green Power from "buddhas tree".

I now have several plants receiving the silicon treatment and I shall be giving the results of the test later in the season!

The difference between Solar Green Power and other brands is that they use silicic acid which is much more readily used by plants than other brands that use potassium silicate.

The benefits of silicon include:

Greater tolerance of cold, heat, under and over watering and under and over feeding.

Improved growth rates owing to an increase in photosynthesis and greater resistance to aphids and diseases - such as fungal spores!

I look forward to sharing the results later in the season - if this product can help resist against blight spores in wet weather, it will be worth using every season by default!

More information about this product at: www.buddhastree.co.uk

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Curled Leaves on Tomato Plants

Curled leaves and branches on tomato plants are often caused by stress.

Of course, disease, weather conditions, and soil problems, including under and over watering, can cause stress and leaves and leaf branches to curl.

However, this often happens in the early summer when plants are still developing their root systems and we get warm sunny days when water uptake is greater than plants can cope with at their stage of development - especially if they are growing in containers.

Sometimes if roots have been damaged by over feeding or disease, this can cause a restricted uptake of water by a plant.

Usually curled leaves and leaf branches return to normal growth when temperatures become more stable and roots have had more time to develop a system that can cope with higher summer temperatures.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Popular Organic Feeds for Tomatoes

Now is a good time to decide on organic feeds for later in the season.

Popular organic feeds for tomatoes include:

  • Comfrey Tea
  • Nettle Tea
  • Compost Tea
  • Seaweed Extract
  • Poultry Manure
  • Horse Manure

The teas are easily made from leaves, but the seaweed (if taken by you from the sea) would need a thorough wash and soak to remove all salt.

Poultry manure may carry disease unless heated and processed, so you wouldn't put raw manure directly into your soil just before planting.

Organic feeds have the advantage of avoiding the possibility of over-feeding and nutrient salt build up because organic food cannot be accessed by roots until it has been gradually digested by the friendly bacteria etc in the soil.

Soil Temperatures
For the organic grower it may be necessary to delay sowing by a week or two so that soil conditions are more favourable - the soil temperature is warmer.

Soil Air Capacity
Healthy soil is full of friendly microbes that feed and protect roots from disease. These friendly bacteria and fungi need oxygen just as the roots do, so a well drained soil with an open texture is ideal.

When roots are happy the whole plant flourishes. When roots are stressed or diseased they take resources from the plant above the soil and growth is effected.

If you are thinking about growing tomatoes using organic feed, there has never been a better time to start. You can save money too if you make your own!

More info about growing organic tomatoes here.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Pots for Tomato Seedlings

One of the jobs that I'm not particularly fond of, is cleaning and sterilising my pots. For years I've used the usual 3 inch pots to transplant my seedlings into, but now I'm using what I think is better ... plastic cups.

I bought a pack of 100 for £1.00 in the local discount store - so they work out at one penny or one pence each!

They are deeper than my brown 3 inch pots which is ideal for leggy seedlings.
Slightly narrower in diameter so you can get more onto a tray and they are white.

I think that white reflective surfaces are very helpful when growing tomato seedlings in the early spring, when light levels are low.
I will now use plastic cups - recycle them of course - and not have the job of sterilising old dirty pots each season for my tomato seedlings.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Tomato Newsletter 2014

The Tomato Newsletter 2014 begins February 1st at Tomato Growing.

If there's nothing like the taste of a home grown tomato, there's also nothing like the taste of one that's been grown without spending a fortune on equipment.

The newsletter includes money saving tips - also great for those who like to recycle - and tips on growing tomatoes organically to name but a few of the subjects covered.

If you would like to sign-up, please go here.

Week one also includes a list of varieties that grow well in the UK.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Choosing The Tastiest Tomatoes

Perhaps the main reason why we grow tomatoes is for the taste. There's no doubt that a home grown tomato is a treat for the taste buds.

However, some home grown varieties taste better, or are sweeter than others.

The sweetness of a tomato is measured on the Brix scale. For example, Gardener's Delight has a rating of 7.0 and Sweet Million rates at 7.1.

There are varieties that rate higher including Sungold at 9.3 and Rosada at an amazing 10.5!

Of course there's more to tomato taste than sugar content alone. Gardener's Delight is well known for having a good balance of sugar and acid which enhances it's traditional flavour.

I guess that a high sugar Brix rating with an acceptable amount of acid content should produce an excellent flavour.

Here's a list of varieties and their Brix rating worth trying this season.

Piccolo, Sungold and Black Cherry Tomatoes
Three of my favourite varieties for taste are Piccolo, Sungold and Black Cherry (left) which I grew last season.

As always, I shall be trying new varieties and definitely ones from the list with a high Brix rating.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Last Season - This Season

Last season was the best tomato growing season I've had for about six years. The wet weather stayed away and there was plenty of sunshine - very unusual for a summer in the UK!

Instead of blight and the numerous other diseases caused by damp weather and cold conditions, stress caused by high temperatures and supplying enough water was the main concern.

Container growing has come on in "leaps and bounds" with the introduction of air pots and smart pots that allow much more oxygen into the roots than a conventional plastic pot or container.

This allows plants to grow with more vigour and reach maturity sooner - especially if watered and fed consistently.

So last season was spent optimising growing conditions rather than struggling against the weather.

I guess the challenge is being ready for whatever the weather throws at us!

Let's hope that the season ahead (2014), is as good for growing tomatoes as last season was.

The Tomato Newsletter begins again in February 2014.