Always makes me smile…

I love growing tomatoes. They’re very forgiving plants and they grow like mad if you’ll let them. I usually start my first batch at the end of January and sow a couple more batches through to the middle of April. I always sow far more plants than I use and give some to friends and family, any surplus by early May end up in the Society’s annual plant sale.

Anyway, I digress, here’s this month’s eye candy: Healthy tomato seedlings ready for potting on over the Easter weekend.

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In the first shot, nearest the window, we have “Gardener’s Delight” an old favourite and one often provided as a cover freebie. Closest to the camera we have “Bambino F1” a packet I had FOC from Vegblogs.

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In the second tray I’ve got “Golden Sunrise” which is an example of one of the more interesting types that sometimes pops up on a magazine cover. This is a regular sized tomato which ripens to a lovely golden yellow. In the kitchen I also have “Venus” A vividly orange cherry variety and “Super Marmade” which is a good reliable beefsteak type. “Venus” was another Vegblogs voucher purchase and “Super Marmade” from the cover of one of the cheaper, weekly, gardening mags.

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12 thoughts on “Always makes me smile…

  1. Those are some lovely, healthy looking seedlings! What’s the secret?! This is the first year I’m not growing tomatoes as always seem to get it wrong. They grow really well up to a point but then always get a disappointing harvest. Sounds like you’ve got some interesting varieties, particularly fancy the yellow ones.

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    1. Secret? Usually I find I get best results sowing in terracotta pots which I stand in a tray of water and only add water to the tray, don’t pour over the top. However, as neither of the most vigorous varieties in the photos is in terracotta pots I don’t know why they are so good (The ones in recycled plastic cups have holes punched in the bottom and are watered the same way)! Good quality multipurpose compost and a West south west facing window sill in an unheated room seems to provide adequate warmth and conditions for germination. Do you grow in pots, growbags or open ground? I usually grow on in large buckets with big holes in the bottom stood on bare earth in the green house or poly tunnel. I mix soil, home made compost, some organic pelletised fertiliser (6X, Chicken Manure etc)and some of the multi purpose compost to plant into and use a home made feed (Nettles in a dustbin covered with water and allowed to ferment. Sometimes I add Comfrey or Borage) I start feeding as soon as the first flowers set, feed once a week with the home made feed diluted to the colour of cold tea. Best tomatoes are slightly underfed, lower nitrogen levels will give sweeter fruit but not such a big yield.

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      1. Hmm, don’t think I was feeding them enough by the sounds of it. I tried them in large pots of homemade compost, at first in my conservatory, then a neighbour kindly leant me some greenhouse space so tried in there too – these weren’t any better so it wasn’t a heat problem. Didn’t add manure or feed them as often though.

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      2. Home made compost is usually rich enough but you do really need to feed tomatoes. Both James Wong and Bob Flowerdew suggest that the feeding regime on commercial tomato food is too rich. Bob suggests using about half what the manufacturer suggests (either half as concentrated or only every two weeks.) Watering is also very important, tomatoes are thirsty. Once they start setting fruit I water at least once a day, giving each plant at least 2 litres of water (I keep a couple of cans in the greehouse so the water is warmm to avoid shocking the plants.) This year I’m going to have a subsidary water tank in the polytunnel, fed from my Shed roof, so I’ll have plenty of warm water on hand. Even a couple of handfuls of growmore will make a difference.

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  2. Only thing I’ve sown is some chilli’s and these don’t seem to be growing yet, I only sow at the allotment so have to wait till it warms up a little. Nice tom seeds can’t wait to see more greengage .

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    1. I keep promising every year to confine my sowing to the plot but I just get over excited and have to start sowing in January! (Onions I sow on Boxing Day, they never seem to do much but the old boys who grow show winners always tell me that’s when they start theirs!)

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      1. I’ve done toms in grow bags and large pots with hole in, last year I put straight into the soil and I did ok. Feeding them I used to use tomato feed then changed my mind last few years, I only use compfry liquid or all the yeast and sediment from me making beer. I just dilute it in water and feed everything, I’ve seen someone else doing the same thing. But can’t find it now to check the right amount I’m using is right, also use my own compost but may buy some to start the seeds growing .

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      2. That’s a good trick, I’ll give that a go next time I do a batch of ale. I must admit I usually compost all the spent hops form the beer and fruit pulp from the wine. I’m going to pop to Pets at Home this weekend and ask if I can have all the sawdust from the rodent cages for my compost heap. When I was a kid my Dad always layered the grass cuttings with the sawdust from the rabbit hutches and it made really good compost really fast. I have the same trouble with weed seeds in home made compost and a lad at the plot suggested sieving the stuff you want to use for sowing and then sterilising it with a wallpaper steamer. Not tried it yet, seems a lot of hassle when I can get three 70 litre bags of good multipurpose compost for £13 at the Society Trading Post but I might give it a go sometime just to see if it works.

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      3. Yep shame here with the seeds growing in own compost, it’s a bit much steaming it with a steamer. I’d need a 5 mile extension cable to reach our house, as we don’t have electric onsite. A chap next to mine does sieve his own compost, even that’s can take ages to do. I used to get my compost from asda 3 bags for £10 think each bag was 50lt or 70 lt, I know it’s cheap but it did me ok. Still may put hand in my pocket and buy a bag to start the seeds growing, would you go to pet shop everyday to get the sawdust. I could do that as well as a local fruit shop, you might end up with tons of dust and no place to put it.

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      4. Waiting for the Managers approval. I was hoping they’d just let me take a bag or two,they leave it out for the binman so I figured I’d do them a favour but it looks like it’s going to be complicated. Our teading post is OK value, especially when it’sdelivered to the plot for the price (Mind you, I do the delivering!) My local independent hardware guy is doing 80 litres for 3.99 but I’m not sure how good it is (I’ve bought a bag for home to test)

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  3. Manager might say no because if something happens to you with the shaving or it infected, the shop won’t want going back and complain to them about it. I’ve seen some council gardeners planting flowers on the roundabouts and verges,tried to get the pots of them and been told no for the same reason if infected they don’t want you complaining. I wouldnt I’d be happy for free pots and if wash them.

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    1. Good point. I may just wait for it to be out for the bins and “liberate” it! How’s your rhubarb this year? Having moved to a new plot I’d not moved mine and was intending to get a couple of crowns off one of the other plot holders but I’ve found three on the new plot already. Not got much on them yet but I have high hopes for this years wine!

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