Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What Is Blossom Drop?

Blossom drop happens when a tomato plant aborts its flowers. as in the photo below.

A Truss Aborts Its Flowers
 This can happen for a number of reasons but the most regular cause is because the flowers fail to pollinate.

This happens when the air is too dry or too humid and the pollen finds it difficult to find its way to the ovary in the flower.

The way to help avoid blossom drop is to shake flowers and stems. It is also a good idea to hold something that vibrates, such as a toothbrush against the stems and flowers to simulate the affect that a bee has when it helps pollen move within a tomato plant's flower.

It is frustrating when an entire truss of flowers fails to pollinate and set fruit, so keep shaking those plants, stems and flowers!

More information about blossom drop may be found here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

First Tomatoes Of The Season

The first tomatoes to ripen this season in my pollytunnel are Red Alert. These are cherry tomatoes grown in containers and are a bush variety.

Red Alert is one of the easiest varieties to grow, and if you live in a short season area, is one of the most reliable and quickest tomatoes to grow - especially if the weather is poor.

Red Alert - one of the easiest varieties to grow.

Another reason why I like to grow Red Alert is because the flowers set fruit easily and early in the season. Some varieties can take ages from when the flowers first appear to when they fade away and the small pea-like tomatoes show.

If you haven't grown Red Alert tomatoes, I would recommend that you give them a try!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Watering Tomatoes

Roots need moisture and air to grow successfully – too much water in the soil on a regular basis will reduce growth and encourage diseases.

 A good root structure is achieved with a balance of both moisture and air.
Try to keep soil just moist is the usual advice. 

Another method is to give the soul a good watering, then let it almost dry-out before watering again.

It's important that there is some moisture in the soil at all times because roots cannot absorb nutrients if the soil is bone dry.

Tomato plants need different amount of water depending on the temperature, whether or not they are fruiting and how many leaves a plant has - the more leaves the more water that's required.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Tomato Seeds & Varieties

For me, this is the most exciting time of the season - choosing which tomato varieties to grow this summer and I always end up with too many plants!

  • Bush varieties for large containers
  • Tall varieties for grow bags and the greenhouse
  • Hybrid varieties for vigour and yield
  • Heirloom tomatoes for taste and history and tradition
  • Cherry tomatoes for hanging baskets and salads
  • Medium to large varieties for slicing and sandwiches
  • Red, yellow, orange, pink, green, white and black tomatoes for colour
  • All shapes and sizes including plum tomatoes for the barbecue and frying 
The problem is ... I don't have enough room to grow all of these types - but I'll try to squeeze in as many as I can!

In my part of the world, sowing begins in earnest at the end of March and beginning of April but I've already sown lots and have plenty of seedlings growing - I can't stop myself!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Tomato Club & Newsletter

The Tomato Club, that tomato growers can join for free, is now up and running on a weekly basis again this season.

It is especially useful for those who grow tomatoes in containers and grow bags. There is a lot of information available - including a weekly quiz - and is well worth joining.

Of course, coming from a short season area - the UK, many of the tips and suggestions relate to tomato growing in a cooler climate, but it is useful to note the varieties that are successful at cooler temperatures and those that ripen early.

Here is the link - Tomato Club.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Tomato Red Alert

Finding tomato varieties that grow well in your area is very important for success. With so many from which to choose, when you find one that does very well, it's worth growing every season and for me, it's Red Alert.

The earliness and taste of this variety are second to none - at least in my garden - and I would recommend it to everyone to try.

As a cherry and bush variety it is easy to move under cover in the spring if temperatures become too cold or weather too wet.

It's only downside is that it can become a bit "leggy" and needs plenty of light. It performs best in a large container rather than a hanging basket and as a general rule, will produce an excellent harvest in a large pot or container. Grow bags are OK too, but it's best to keep the low growing branches off the ground.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year and a successful tomato growing season!

Santa brought me a large electric propagator and an LED grow light to replace my old set-up, so I have the chance now to sow tomato seeds even earlier than usual.

One of the problems with sowing early is that plants can become too leggy - especially if there is not enough light. Therefore, keeping seedlings at a mild temperature requires some artificial lighting in the form of a grow lamp/light.

Getting the combination of light, heat and moisture correct can be tricky because too much heat and moisture and they'll shoot up like rockets ... a temperature that is too cold will slow or even check growth and plants may not recover.

Keeping a minimum of moisture in the soil (under-watering) is my approach when conditions are cold. When temperatures are warm and light levels are high, tomato plants are happy with plenty of moisture, especially when they are fruiting.