There is nothing like the taste of home grown tomatoes, yet on the other hand, the frustration of poor results can often put off the "would be" tomato grower from trying again the following season. By the time the crop has failed it is often too late to start from scratch in the same season.
However, here are some tips and advice to help the beginner avoid the diseases and other problems associated with growing tomatoes. Many experienced gardeners will tell you that tomatoes are easy to grow - they are if you have had previous experience and know especially what tomato plants don't like.
- Use new compost for seeds and plants because old soil or compost may contain all sots of nasties. Nutrients also degrade over time, so fresh comost (multi-purpose for example) is the most nutritious.
- Clean and sterilise all pots and containers used last season - especially if they were used for tomatoes.
- When seeds germinate, keep the seedlings in as light a position as possible to prevent them from becoming leggy.
- Transplant seedlings into individual pots 3inch or slightly larger and increase pot size as plants grow.
- Don't feed plants with tomato food until after pea-like tomatoes start to form as the flowers die. If plants are regularly potted-on into bigger pots containing new compost, they won't need to be fed as there is enough food in the compost.
- Don't remove the flowers as these are the future tomatoes.
- Stand plants in trays of water only when watering, then allow compost to almost dry out. Tomato plants need both moisture and air to grow a good root system and if they are stood in water all the time they will be vulnerable to disease.
- Contrary to popular opinion, tomatoes don't like rain because they hate water on their leaves - especially overnight when the temperature drops. Wet leaves for just a few days and your lovely little plants will probably get blight - this is very bad!
- Lastly, tomato plants can't cope with frost, or near frost temperatures, so keep them indoors overnight until after the last frost in your area.
More tips and advice on how to grow tomatoes, especially for beginners, may be found at tomato growing.