Homeschool Garden Club - Tomatoes
It is time to get the tomatoes started. This year, I am sowing only 6 tomato seeds a week. So, I can get a staggered harvest of tomatoes. Here at the Orchard Training Garden Club we love growing our own pasta sauce and pizza topping. Even better - gobbling down our snack tomatoes fresh from the plant! However, last year we had a few to many and we had to process a bit of a glut. I still have a number of jars of Green Tomato Chutney to eat up.
Tomatoes are delicious and full of goodness, tomatoes that are really easy to grow. Tomatoes aren’t just red! With over 10,000 varieties, they come in a rainbow of colour from pink, black, yellow, purple, and even white! they also come in different sizes from Tomberry size which is about 1cm wide and weighing in at about 2g up to Beefstake varieties and one called Gigantomo which can grow up to 25cm wide and weigh over 1kg
Why should you eat them?
As well as being super tasty, tomatoes contain lots of important minerals and vitamins that keep you healthy.
Vitamin C: Protects the cells in your body and boosts your immune system. It also helps your body to recover from colds!
Lycopene: This antioxidant keeps the heart healthy, and is the reason some tomatoes are bright red.
Vitamin A: Helps keep your eyes and other organs healthy.
Potassium: Helps your muscles function properly.
High fibre: Keeps your digestive system in top condition.
We have had the recommendations for
· Cherry (eat straight from vine): ‘Sungold’
· Plum (pizza & pasta sauce): ‘Roma Nano’
· Medium (salads): ‘Oh Happy Day Beefsteak’ and ‘Gardeners Delight’.
· Slicing (for sandwiches): ‘Cuore di Bue’
I am growing Yellow Mimi F1 and Tomato Rosella, this year, from seed. Both are little cherry tomatoes, one with yellow flesh and the other with pink. However, I am happy to swop some for other varieties.
What you’ll need:
Packet of tomato seeds
Clean yogurt pots and larger pots
60 litre bag tomato compost or open ground
Long sticks or canes
I am growing Yellow Mimi F1 and Tomato Rosella, this year, from seed. Both are little cherry tomatoes one with yellow flesh and the other with pink. However, I am happy to swop some for other varieties.
Drop two seeds into each pot, and sprinkle compost over the top.
Cover with cling film and put on a sunny windowsill.
Keep the soil moist, but not too wet.
In 7-10 days, seedlings should appear.
If both seeds germinate, just keep the biggest one.
Repot Your Seedlings With Care.
When the seedlings are big enough, it’s time to repot them.
Always hold the leaves, not the stem
Gently plant them in a larger pot with fresh compost.
Keep them on the windowsill and water every day.
When they’re 20cm tall, take your seedlings outside for a few hours each day. This is called “hardening off”.
Plant Your Tomatoes Outside
Cut 2 small holes in the top of your growbag, about 30cm apart. (Some grow suggest 3 plants but form experience we would say only 2.)
Gently plant the tomatoes into the holes.
Gently pinch out any extra side shoots so more fruits grow on the central stem.
Tomatoes like lots of sun and lots of water!
‘Vine’ or ‘cordon’ tomatoes need to be tied to a cane with soft string.
When flowers appear, give your plants some tomato feed once a week.
Your tomatoes will change colour when they’re ready to eat.
Alternately, pop them in to the ground.
Our top tips are:
1) When transplanting or potting on bury the tomatoes up to the last leaves.
2) Push the supports in first to prevent damaging the roots.
3) Sink in recycled drinks bottle with the bottom cut off, upside down so you can water the roots easily.
4) plant outside if your area does not suffer form blight.
Try growing a few different varieties to see which taste best. Seed swop or plant swop with your Study Buddies at the Orchard Training Garden Club.