tomato vine

​Tomatoes always taste so much better when they have been picked straight from the garden and received some genuine care and affection. 

So, if you've already planted yours and they're firmly on their way, follow these top care tips from expert and Country Living gardening editor, Stephanie Donaldson, to keep them on track.

Or, if you've missed the opportunity to sow your own seeds, then head down to your local garden centre and choose some young plants that are sturdy and dark green in colour – don't take pity on weak yellow plants as these won't give you the results you're after.

tomatos

1. Choose the right type of plant for your needs

There are two types of tomato plants. Bush tomatoes need no staking and are ideal for containers and hanging baskets. Cordon tomatoes are tall plants that will need the support of a cane.

2. How to look after your chosen plant

  • When the roots begin to poke through the bottom of the pot, make sure you repot the plant into a larger and deeper pot to provide them with enough root space to grow happily.​
  • Be sure to use high quality, peat-free multipurpose compost and plant deeply. To build up a lovely strong plant, you can even bury the bottom layer of leaves.
  • Don't neglect your tomatoes! They will need daily watering and will do best in a sunny, sheltered place such as a greenhouse.
  • Regularly pinch out the side shoots in order to encourage fruiting.​
  • You should aim to repot at least once more as the plant matures, ending up with a plant growing in a 25cm pot, or two or three plants in a growbag.​
  • Before the fruit starts to set on the first flower truss, liquid feed with a general purpose fertiliser. Afterwards, give your tomatoes a liquid tomato feed every five days.

tomato plant

  • ​Once a cordon tomato has 4 trusses of fruit, pinch out the growing tips at the top of the plant. This will encourage the fruit to swell beautifully.
  • Remove any yellowing leaves as you go along, and as the fruit starts to ripen you can start to remove the lower leaves of cordon plants to speed up the process, as they take up valuable nutrients as it makes it way up the plant.​
  • When harvest time finally arrives, if you still have some fruit that is shy of ripening, pluck from the plant and put them in the company of a banana. Bananas give off ethylene that will speed up ripening

So there you have it. Follow these expert tips to enjoy your very own home-grown tomatoes, perfectly sun-ripened and harvested straight from plant to plate.  

And once they're ready for your plate, choose from one of our favourite tomato recipes...