Grow your own tomatoes
- Dig in lots of compost if you are planting in your vegetable garden or a pot. Alternatively, you can buy a tomato grow bag. Tomatoes need a hot, sunny spot & plenty of watering. If you live in a warmer area you can grow them outside next to a sunny stone wall. If you live in a colder area then you may need to grow them in a greenhouse.
- It is possible to sow tomatoes directly into the ground, however in most climates it is necessary to start them off inside or grow them in a greenhouse. Plant seeds 2cm deep in pots of compost, indoors on a sunny windowsill from the end of February. Ensure the compost does not dry out. Tomatoes like warm soil (10 degrees Celsius) so avoid planting out in the garden too early, especially before the last frost. Before you plant them out they must be hardened, this means leaving them outside on a warm day & then bringing them in over night. The plants should be planted out when they reach about 15cm high. Allow approx. 45cm between plants. Plant at a slightly deeper depth than in the pot , say 5cm, to encourage more root growth.
- Ensure each plant is supported, for instance with a bamboo cane. Tomatoes generally don't need much protecting. However planting marigolds near by do attract beneficial insects that eat the less welcome ones.
WATER & CARE
- Regular watering is the most important thing to do for your tomatoes. Pinch out side shoots between main branches.
Leaving these to grown will waste the plant's energy that should go into producing the tomato itself.
- Harvest as soon as the fruit is red & looks good to eat. This also encourges more fruit growth. Harvest all tomatoes
before the first frost. They can be left to ripen indoors.
- Keep the seeds from 1 or 2 tomatoes & dry them out for next year. Store in a cool, dry place. We use brown envelopes. We have also found tnat if you leave some fruit to fall, a plant will grow where it has fallen the following year. This may not be 100% reliable, but it is worth trying out.
- Eat straight off the plant, in a salad or make a fresh Tomato Sauce.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
- Chop an onion. Fry in a saucepan in butter & a little oil until soft. (Add a tsp of chopped fresh chilli if you like it spicy).
- Roughly chop 8 tomatoes. Add to the onions.
- Add 5 roughly chopped olives & a tsp of marjoram, tyme, mint or basil (or all 4)
from your herb garden.
- Add half a pint of vegetable stock.
- Add a tblsp of balsamic vinegar or 1 tsp of honey.
- Bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add salt & pepper to taste.
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