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A Comprehensive Guide to Growing Tomatoes from Seed

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With the New Year now behind us, Gardeners are eagerly anticipating the start of the growing season, even as winter’s chill lingers. Despite the frosty exterior, those fortunate enough to have access to a warm greenhouse or even a sunny window sill gardeners are gearing up to sow a variety of seeds, including growing tomatoes, chillies, peppers, and aubergines from seed.

Here are some essential insights on successfully nurturing tomatoes and other beloved greenhouse crops in the UK.

Tomatoes: The Quintessential Summer Crop (…. or is it?)

Tomatoes are a cherished summer delight that can thrive in the UK’s temperamental climate and can br grown in soil, in pots, or even in hanging baskets. With over ten thousand tomato varieties globally, there’s a tomato to satisfy every gardener’s palate. Whether you lean toward beefsteak, plum, standard, or sweet cherry tomatoes, you’ll find a variety that suits your taste and available growing space. Why not grow some Table Top Tomatoes from seed all year round in a pot in your kitchen so you can get picking early!

Timing Is Key:

While certain greenhouse favorites like peppers, chillies, and aubergines demand an extended growing season, tomatoes can be sown in January or as late as March. Nevertheless, the key to success during these early months lies in ensuring that you provide sufficient light and warmth to facilitate seedling growth and prevent the emergence of leggy plants. The wise investment in propagators,  or even put your pots in plastic bags and tie the tops to keep in the heat and humidity.

An huge Array of Choices of tomato varieties:

Tomatoes fall into two primary categories: cordon/intermediate and bush/determinate. Cordon plants grow vertically on a single stem, producing multiple trusses of tomatoes and requiring support, such as staking. Conversely, bush plants are compact and ideally suited for pots and hanging baskets.

How to Sow Tomatoes:

To ensure a fruitful tomato harvest, follow these ten steps for sowing:

1. Opt for small 9cm pots or seed trays, filling them with Carbon Gold Biochar Seed Compost.
2. Firmly compact the soil to create a stable surface, and make an indent the top about 1/2 cm deep then place one tomato seed in the indentation. Gently cover the seeds with                compost and lightly pat the compost down to ensure that the seeds are in contact with the substrate.
3. Delicately water the top layer of compost using a spray bottle or a watering can fitted with a fine rose attachment. Place the pots or trays in a warm (around 21 degrees C), well-lit location and ensure they are kept warm and do not dry out. Germination often takes up to 14 days on average.
4. Once the seedlings exhibit their ‘true leaves,’ delicately transplant them, gripping them by their leaves rather than their stems, into 9cm pots or seed modules filled with Carbon  Gold Biochar Seed Compost. Water each seedling, label them, and position them in a warm, sunny spot.
5. If you notice roots emerging from the base of the pots, transfer the seedlings to larger containers.  When your plants boast several leaves, they are ready for their final growing location, this is the ideal time to use Carbon Gold Biology Blend, in the base of the final planting hole. You only need a single teaspooon of this product under the roots of the tomato plant to reduce transplant shock and boost the tomatoes root growth in its new surroundings.
6. For indoor tomato growing, ensure ample ventilation to regulate temperatures and facilitate pollination. You can assist in pollination by gently tapping the tomato flowers.
7. Prune away any side shoots that sprout between the main stem and branches of cordon tomato plants to redirect energy towards fruit production.
8. Regularly secure your tomato plants to promote upward growth and support the weight of maturing tomatoes.
9. Maintain a consistent watering schedule.
10. When your tomato plant sports four or five trusses, trim the top of the main stem. This encourages fruit to set, enabling you to harvest them as they ripen.

Common Issues and Solutions found with growing tomatoes:

Tomato blight, a prevalent fungal disease, necessitates immediate removal of affected plants. Avoid composting them, and keep them away from potatoes to prevent further contamination. Consider cultivating blight-resistant tomato varieties to ensure a healthy harvest.
Blossom end rot, resulting from a calcium deficiency often due to irregular watering, can be mitigated by maintaining a consistent watering routine. Water at the base of the plant to prevent leaf scorching.
Aphids can be a nuisance, but they can be gently washed away with water or deterred through companion planting with marigolds. However a water spray with a very small amount of peppermint essential oil and washing up liquid will

Tips for Growing Tomato from seed successfully:

– Allocate separate pots for different tomato varieties to prevent confusion during germination.
– Enhance tomato flavor and attract pollinators by companion planting with basil.
– Consider planting bush tomato varieties in hanging baskets or decorative containers for an aesthetically pleasing summer display.

Cultivating tomatoes and other greenhouse favorites in the UK offers a rewarding and delectable experience. With proper care and attention to detail, you can relish a bountiful harvest of homegrown tomatoes, even in the face of the UK’s fickle climate. As the New Year unfolds, prepare your greenhouse and get ready to savor the taste of summer in your own garden.

Don’t forget to fertilise your plants during the growing season to ensure optimum growing,

Growing tomatoes from seed at home will be cheaper in the long run as well as tasting infinately better!

Happy gardening!

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