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Growing tomatoes with the Tomato Club

By 7 April, 2022 No Comments

Growing tomatoes is so much fun and for the second year running are proud to be sponsoring the Tomato Club, a national sow and grow-along which inspires people who have never grown their own toms before to get sowing and growing.

The Club’s founders, popular instagram gardeners Lisa-Marie Elkhadraoui @lisamaries_kitchengarden and Joe Harrison @grow_with_joe have created a brilliant community featuring tomato clinics, live Q&As and even a free downloadable guide on tomato growing!

Its not too late to sow tomato seeds, or to plant plug plants, read Lisa-Marie and Joe’s top tips below and click here to join the club.

Top five tips for getting started growing tomatoes

1. What seeds to choose can be a big decision. There is a tomato to satisfy your every need. So if you’re partial to the taste of Italy and enjoy making your own tomato sauce for pasta or pizzas, go for a plum variety such as ‘San Marzano’ or ‘Roma’ which are both perfect for cooking with. If you’re a snacker and prefer the satisfying pop of a cherry tomato in your mouth, why not try ‘Gardener’s Delight’ or ‘Sungold’ perhaps? The possibilities are endless and we think that choosing which varieties to grow can sometimes be the hardest part about growing your own tomatoes!

2. Think about where you will be sowing your seeds; heated propagator, windowsill, unheated greenhouse etc, as this will impact on when it’s a suitable time to sow them. If you don’t have the time or space to grow from seed, don’t panic because there will be an abundance of tomato plants available later in the year from garden centres, neighbours and fellow allotment holders who will be more than happy to donate their surplus plants.

3. As gardeners it’s our responsibility to do our bit for the planet and partake in the three ‘R’s; ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’. With this in mind, rather than using shop bought plastic pots to sow your seeds or grow your seedlings in, why not get creative and use some up-cycled containers otherwise destined for the recycling bin, such a fruit punnets, yoghurt pots and milk cartons.

4. Consider your final growing position and how much space you have. Will you be growing in pots, greenhouse, grow bags or raised beds perhaps? Remember that you don’t have to own a greenhouse or polytunnel to be a successful tomato grower so don’t be put off if you don’t have either of these.

5. Finally, get yourself some peat-free compost (or perhaps some coir), a few bamboo canes and some good quality liquid feed such as Empathy Tomato Feed and of course, those fabulous Tomato Starter biscuits from Empathy which will give your young plants the kick start they need when you pot them on into their final growing position.

Growing tomatoes

Five top tips for growing tomatoes

Growing tomatoes

1. It’s a good idea to ascertain what type of tomato plant you’re growing; whether it’s a cordon variety (also known as indeterminate) or a bush variety (also known as determinate). Generally cordon varieties will grow lots taller and will need more growing space, whereas bush varieties can be smaller which means they are great if you’re short on space and can even be planted in hanging baskets.

2. Choose your final growing spot carefully because your plants will really thrive if they have around 8 hours of full sun each day. Don’t worry if you don’t have the luxury of somewhere bathed in so much direct sunlight, you can still grow tomatoes successfully just keep in mind that the less sunlight your fruit receives, the longer it will take to ripen.

3. Consistency is key with tomatoes and this especially true when it comes to watering. Ensure you have a regimented watering routine and try to stick to it. Tomatoes like to be kept moist and will not respond well if allowed to dry out between watering. Water your plants first thing in the morning before it gets too hot or early in the evening.

4. When growing single stem cordon varieties (indeterminate), it’s very important to provide your plants with adequate support such as bamboo canes. Branches adorned with a bounty of fruits can be extremely heavy and will cause your plants to topple over and snap if they’re not adequately supported and secured with ties.

5. Feeding is key if you want your plants to be covered with lots of delicious fruits. Left unfed, your plants can be more prone to pests and diseases, will produce fewer fruits and simply won’t be as tasty. With this in mind, introduce a regular feeding routine every 7-10 days with a good quality tomato feed such as Empathy’s Tomato Feed. In addition to this, we would definitely recommend using Empathy’s Tomato Starter biscuits to give your tomatoes a real boost when transferring your plants to their final growing spot.

Top tomato variety

If you give someone the choice between a homegrown tomato which has been warmed in the heat of the midday summer sun, picked and eaten straight from the plant OR a shop bought tomato; we think you’ll agree homegrown wins every single time! 

Thanks to some of the Tomato Club’s fabulous members, who have generously shared some of their seeds, we can now happily say we have a really wide range of exciting varieties to grow this year, but there is one variety which will always stand out from the crowd and it’s called ‘San Marzano’, which is an Italian tomato, perfect for using in rich, delicious sauces due to their low water content. This variety is a must for us to grow each year, not only because it’s delicious but also the fruits are virtually impossible to find in shops or local produce markets and perhaps most of all, they hold a particularly special place in both mine and Lisa’s heart due to our Italian heritage.

Growing tomatoes

Growing your own tasty tomatoes and edibles

Our Grow Your Own products are natural alternatives to chemical feeds and support products, they work biologically to seed the soil with all the friendly mycorrhizal fungi and good bacterial elements that will nurture and feed plants to produce healthy growth and tasty crops.

Tomato Starter

Empathy Tomato Starter biscuits contain rootgrow™ mycorrhizal fungi, beneficial bacteria, water-retaining crystals, bioadditives and up to 4 months worth of nutrients to give your plants the best start possible.

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After Plant Tomato Feed

Empathy After Plant Tomato Feed is a high potash liquid concentrate containing seaweed extract, plant derived amino acids and other nutrients specifically formulated to benefit tomatoes and greenhouse plants.

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After Plant GYO Feed

Empathy After Plant Grow Your Own is a ready to use liquid concentrate containing sustainably harvested seaweed, balanced with a refined fertiliser blend designed to promote the healthy development of veg and fruits in your garden.

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Gemma Sharpe

Author Gemma Sharpe

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