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If you are thinking of growing tomatoes by using seed from fruit you are eating, a word of helpful advice. DON'T! But why not?
Firstly, let's look at WHEN you might start to grow tomatoes. They actually take quite a long time, at least least four months from sowing to fruiting. You can grow seeds very early in the spring season so that you can expect to eat their fruits at the end of summer. You can also buy your tomatoes as small plants slightly later in the spring. That might help you to laugh all the way to the larder.
Tomatoes are probably one of the easiest and most rewarding of fruits to grow. Yes, you know they are fruits, even though tomatoes can be used in the same way as vegetables. The greatest thing about them is the flavour. In fact, the many different flavours they can really set your taste-buds jingling because they are all so amazingly different! How can this be?
Just try it for yourself grow at least three or four different varieties and you will soon realise what excitement they can bring to a salad. Grow Gardener's Delight for a reliable cherry tomato; there's Sun Baby for a yummy yellow variety; there's Black Opal which looks, dark and mysterious; a brilliant beefsteak tomato called Costoluto di Parma; Italian plum varieties and, yes, you have guessed it tomatoes that just look exactly like tomatoes. Perhaps one of the best-known varieties is Moneymaker but why restrict yourself when there is so much more?
DID YOU KNOW these fascinating facts about tomatoes?
What colours do you think tomatoes come in? They can be yellow; pink; purple; black and even white!
- Tomatoes are good for the heart. They contain lycopene which is an antioxidant that is effective against cancers.
- Tomatoes are just as good for you when cooked. In fact, cooking actually releases beneficial chemicals. They contain vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium.
- A big tomato fight happens every year in the Spanish town of Bunol. There's a festival called La Tomatine which involves up to 40,000 people throwing 150,000 tomatoes at each other. That's sensible.
- The greatest number of tomatoes harvested from a single plant over a year is recorded by the Guinness World Record as 32,194. The tomato plant was growing at Walt Disney World in Florida.
- The largest tomato plant in the world grows at the same venue it covers an area of 56.73metres sq. That's larger than an Olympic size swimming pool!
Now get those tomatoes growing!
- You can grow tomatoes outdoors but they are even better in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Just give them a lovely sunny spot and shelter them from wind.
- Add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil and make sure you water them regularly to prevent problems that lead to skin-splitting and blossom-end-rot. Tomato leaves and stems hate getting wet so just water the soil.
- Give a weekly feed seaweed or comfrey is good, or a proprietary tomato feed.
- Try companion planting basil is a particularly useful herb as it will attract white fly which might otherwise enjoy your tomatoes. Also try garlic, nasturtiums or tagetes (marigolds) as these repel aphids.
- Use canes for tall varieties and/or netting for the bush varieties.
- Put a tomato in a hanging basket it's a great way to enjoy the colour and growth! But make sure you select an appropriate trailing variety such as Tumbling Tom, which comes in yellow and in red.
- To pinch or not to pinch? Take out the side shoots so that the plant puts energy into the fruit rather than growing lots of branches. BUT if your tomato is a bush variety you don't need to do this you want it to grow bushy instead!