The time is ripe to grow some delicious tomatoes – Brian Kidd
Are you thinking about growing some tomatoes this year?In a couple of weeks time, we can sow the seeds indoors either in a propagating box or in a warm window in a spare room.
But is it worth all the effort needed to grow them from seeds?
Well, let’s look at the costs.
This year, a single plant of the Shirley tomato variety – which is a very good choice – will be 75p for a plant in a three-inch diameter pot.
That’s not expensive because there will be at least ten pounds of fruit from each plant.
But also have a look at the price of seeds. The cheapest is £1.95 for an ordinary variety but up to £4.99 for an F1 hybrid with 20 seeds in the pack.
The point is that you have a very good choice to choose from and can find exactly what you would like to grow.
And yes, even vine tomatoes – which we all know are the best-tasting ones at the supermarket – taste even better when grown at home.
It’s a fact that supermarket tomatoes taste really good if you pick out English-grown fruits, particularly those grown on the Isle of Wight where they ripen naturally.
But how about we sow our own seeds and grow our own delicious tomatoes?
If I were you, I would choose an F1 hybrid. But you don’t need 50 cheap plants! Pick 12 at the most.
Find a five-inch diameter pot that is similar to which you buy chrysanthemums in.
On a nice spring day, fill your designated pot with seed sowing compost and put a label with the name of the variety at midday.
Plant a single seed at each hour of the clock. Cover them with a light layer of compost and soak the container into copper mixture you can find at garden centres.
It may sound odd but this trick will prevent fungal disease, such as damping off, and therefore prevent it ruining the seedlings.
Place the container into the plant propagator or into the window with a sheet of newspaper over the top.
If the temperature is around 60F/15 degrees and they have lots of light to feed off, the seedlings should emerge in about ten days.
Once the seedlings have emerged, pot each one into a three-inch diameter pot. Keep them in plenty of light and they will be ready to go into the greenhouse about six weeks later.
If you would like to grow them in the garden, keep them indoors and plant them at the end of May in a protected area.
Just to make you smile, I saw a lady on the bus a couple of weeks ago.
She told me she went to a talk where I told everyone to sow the seeds as described above. She asked me why they weren't sown all at the same time and I explained.
She said: ‘You must think I am stupid!’
I didn't; her question was logical and I should have made myself clearer. But I hope this helps you grow some delicious tomatoes.
As always, thanks for all your letters.
This week’s top tip:
Hooray, British summertime begins on Sunday! I wish we would just leave the clocks alone because every time we change them one goes wrong. At least we will have an extra hour in the garden in the evenings.