Saturday, 28 March 2009

How to Plant Tomatoes

In this instructional video Dave talks with Teri Volante about how to give your tomatoes the best possible start in life.

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Friday, 27 March 2009

Growing Tomatoes - Heirloom Vs Hybrid Varieties

Tomatoes from the grocery store shelves taste like-NOTHING! Why? Most of the tomatoes purchased from grocery stores have been harvested days before they reach the grocery, treated to turn red, and bred to stay firm and not bruise on the shelves. Plant breeding for the last fifty years has concentrated on producing a tomato that can survive anything-except for a taste test.

Gardeners and tomato aficionados alike have given up on the produce aisle for anything other than garnish. Instead, they turn to seed and plant catalogues to find tasty varieties to grow. When viewing a plant catalogue of tomato seed sources, you will be confronted with hundreds of varieties. Huge and tiny, purple, red, yellow and orange tomatoes. Perfectly round, almost flat, and lemon-shaped tomatoes. Seed catalogues highlight another variable to understand regarding tomato growing: heirloom versus hybrid tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Tasty and unique, heirloom varieties are endless. This category of plant is where you will find purple, orange and yellow tomatoes sharing catalogue space with red ones. Heirloom varieties are "open pollinated" plants, which means that if you harvest seeds from a plant, prepare them, save them, and plant them next year, you will grow the same plant. Heirloom varieties were developed over time, in isolated gardens and communities, thus developing unique characteristics.

Heirlooms require particular growing conditions, and each variety is different. The key to success with heirlooms is choosing a variety that is well suited to your growing conditions. Because heirloom tomatoes have not been bred for generations to promote vigor and disease resistance, these varieties need a little bit of extra care. They are, however, worth the extra work. Heirlooms will produce lush, flavorful tomatoes of every shape, size and hue, for every culinary taste or need.

Hybrid Tomatoes

These tomatoes are the result of two different tomato varieties being "crossed" or joined, and the seeds harvested from the resulting plants. Hybrid tomato seeds will produce the tomato with hybrid characteristics for only one plant generation. If you harvest your tomatoes from the hybrid plant and plant those seeds next year, you will not have the same plant.

Hybrid tomatoes have been bred for disease resistance, uniformity, and ability to withstand mechanical harvesting, packing and shipping. Little time has been spent in enhancing flavor in hybrid tomatoes. Much like hybrid tea roses, hybrid tomatoes may be nice to look at, but they have few other desirable attributes.

For large-scale commercial tomato growers, hybrid tomatoes are a great help. For consumers expecting bright red tomatoes in the middle of winter, hybrids are a way to consume. For home gardeners, Heirloom varieties produce yields as large, and much more flavorful. Home gardeners have enough time an attention to successfully grow heirloom tomatoes and bring out their best qualities.

Choosing the Right Variety

Whether Heirlooms or Hybrids are your tomato of choice, you much choose tomato varieties that are well suited to your growing environment. Climates with high heat and humidity will help certain varieties flourish, while colder climates with shorter growing seasons require cultivation of plants that set fruit and mature faster.

For a comprehensive resource on tomato varieties, both heirloom and hybrid, consult How To Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes available from

If you want more detailed tomato garden advice and tips from a world horticultural expert, visit

Friday, 10 October 2008

Growing Tomatoes in Containers and Pots - 4 Top Tips

I have been growing tomatoes in patio containers and pots this year with some success. I also have my beloved plot with tomatoes growing in the ground. I know the ones in the ground will work fine - they have done for thirty years. But growing my tomatoes in containers is anew departure for me.

The comparison between the pot grown tomato and those in the ground.

I grew 2 varieties this year moneymaker and an Italian cherry tomato variety. I cannot remember the name but they came free with a magazine. I sowed the seeds in March 2008 and grew them on in my conservatory in 6 inch pots. As Always I grew too many tomato plants and gave 20 away. I planted them out as 2 - 3 foot high plants in early June and a month later picked the first tomatoes. As I speak in late august I still have many fruits to pick so it has been a good year. The plants grown in containers have had similar results but I have noticed 2 differences.

Firstly the moneymaker tomatoes were slightly smaller than the ones grown on my plot.

Secondly there were not quite as many cherry tomatoes in the containers.

Other than that the results were very similar. The taste is uniformly excellent and the texture and colour very appetizing. For the container grown tomatoes I did treat them differently and with a bit more care.

1. Make sure you put tomato plants in a really big pot.

I like the root systems to have plenty of room and not become pot bound. You also need a big container to have enough depth for the support canes. I use standard clay terracotta pots but any wide and deep container will work fine.

2. Water your tomatoes even if it rains.

We have had a dreadful summer in the UK this year and it has rained constantly. I still found that the pot grown tomato plants were wilting a bit if I didn't check them for watering. The plants in the veg plot did not need this. The reason for this is that the leaves of the tomato plants deflect much of the water away from the pot. Very little water gets to the root of the plants. This is why I check them daily.

3. Be ruthless with pinching out side shoots on the tomato plants.

I only pinch out once or twice a season when growing tomatoes in the ground because they seem to do fine. I have learned this through trial and error. The moneymaker plants in pots were pinched out once a week to ensure that the fruits I did get were big enough and juicy enough. I never bother pinching out cherry tomatoes. They take care of themselves and always give plenty of harvest.

4. Remove excess foliage once you have the tomato fruits.

I have always done this to tomatoes and do not know where I picked this tip up. Once you have all the tomatoes set on the plant remove any leaves that are hiding the fruit from the sun. I prefer the tomatoes to ripen on the plant and this helps speed up the ripening process. Removing the leaves also gives you slightly bigger tomatoes.

If you have missed this tomato season then I encourage you to plan ahead for your tomato growing in 2009. Grow some in pots and containers as well as in the ground. They are a lot of fun and be grown on any sunny spot you have.

by Kenh Jones

About the Author

You can grow plants in containers very easily and without a large garden. Tomatoes are particularly suitable for growing in containers. For more gardening tips you can visit

Friday, 26 September 2008

Tomato Pest And Disease Problems - Preventing, Diagnosing And Treating

Tomatoes are notoriously picky plants. Tomatoes are in the potato family, which makes them susceptible to tens, if not hundreds of pest and disease problems; however, that should not stop any tomato loving gardener from harvesting buckets of healthy tomatoes. The key is to learn how to prevent, diagnose and treat tomato problems.

Tomato Disease Prevention

Disease prevention in tomato plants starts with healthy growing practices. Preparing the soil, watering properly, and feeding appropriately are all keys to tomato disease prevention. Tomatoes like a well draining soil filled with lots of organic matter. Tomato roots penetrate deeply into the soil, helping to stabilize plants and take up water. With well-prepared soil, watering deeply and infrequently-every 4-6 days, will allow the tomato plant to have enough water, without putting the plant at risk of problems of overly "wet feet." Always water in the morning, so plant leaves have time to dry during the day. Leaves are a perfect spot for disease incubation, and water ripens those conditions even more. Prune your plants to provide air flow through the leaves and branches, which will also aid drying time. Ensure that your tomato plants receive proper nutrition by conducting a soil test, and treating the soil according to the results. All of these practices will give your plants a good start fighting off diseases and pests.

Diagnosing Tomato Pests and Diseases

If all of your well-intentioned cultivation practices have not stopped your plants from succumbing to a problem, then you must diagnose the problem. Tomatoes can suffer from pest problems, nutrition problems, viral, bacterial and fungal problems.

Pest damage to tomato plants causes visible physical changes. Cutworms actually cut off the plant from its root system, causing the plant to wilt and die. Aphid damage results in sticky residue on the plant. Aside from the damage they inflict, you can often see the pest itself on the plant. Caterpillars bury into fruit and eat it, causing fruit to rot. Whiteflies and spider mites are visible on the leaves. Diagnosing pest problems is easier than other problems because most pests can be observed on the plant.

Nutrition problems in tomato plants manifest in several areas of the plant. Tomatoes absorb a wide variety of nutrients, minerals and trace elements from garden soil. Deficiencies in each nutrient result in specific symptoms in the plant. Excess nitrogen causes deep green, lush, leafy plants with little fruit. Nitrogen deficiency causes yellowing of lower leaves. Calcium deficiency causes blossom end rot, a common problem on tomato fruit characterized by yellow, leathery spots that spread into black, rotting patches on the blossom end of the fruit. (The end away from the stem.) Nutrition problems can be seasonal, or soil related. A soil test helps determine what nutrients are lacking in the soil. If all nutrients are in the soil, factors such as overly wet or cold soil can make it more difficult for plants to absorb nutrients.

Viruses, bacteria and fungus all cause tomato diseases and problems. Wilts, damping off, leaf spots, mildew, fruit rot, cankers, and leaf mosaic problems are all common tomato problems caused by a cocktail of tiny organisms. Each problem shows in the tomato in different ways. Leaf mosaic viruses show up in leaves, causing mosaic-like patterns. Cankers are growths on stems, leaves or fruit. Root rot often shows up in the leaves of the plant, as they shrivel and die from not having enough water. For a comprehensive, pictorial guide on diagnosing tomato plant pests and diseases, consult How to Grow Tasty Juicy Tomatoes (available from

Treating Tomato Pest and Disease Problems

The phrase: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies to tomato growing. As earlier related, properly caring for tomato plants and their soil prevents many problems. However, should your plants fall prey to a problem, there are many ways to treat.

First, correctly diagnose the problem. Once diagnosis is certain, follow procedures related to the particular problem. Many plant problems can be alleviated by changing gardening techniques. Plants that are stressed are more susceptible to pest and disease problems. Examine watering, mulching, and feeding practices. If those techniques are in balance, many pest and disease problems will go away. Nutrition deficiencies may be corrected by adding correct nutrients to the soil in easily accessible forms. Some nutrients are best delivered as leaf or soil drenches, while others work well in time-release granular applications. Pest problems can be corrected with beneficial insects, changes in gardening techniques, and insecticides-both synthetic and organic. Viral, bacterial and fungal problems can also be treated with a combination of gardening techniques and soil and plant drenches and sprays. Safety is an important consideration when applying any sort of pesticide. Read the label carefully and follow all directions. More is not better when pesticides are concerned.

While all of this information can seem daunting, tomato growing is a rewarding hobby. Keep a good reference on hand, and whenever your plants are under the weather, open the book and identify the problem. How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes contains over 260 colored photos of diseases, pests and common nutrition deficiencies and is a must-have for any top-notch tomato grower!

If you want more detailed tomato garden advice and tips from a world horticultural expert, visit

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Art of Growing and Showing Tomato - by Trevor Dalley

Shop Bought Tomatoes Can Not Compare With The Old Fashioned Tomato Grown In Your Own Garden.

One hundred and fifty years ago the tomato (or, as it was then called, the Love Apple) was little known and less cared for. It was grown by a few only, and merely for the decorative value of the fruit. During the last one hundred it has grown rapidly in public favour.

With the aid of heated greenhouses it is possible and comparatively easy to have fresh Tomatoes all year round, though to provide a supply throughout the winter is an expensive matter.

Tomatoes may be grown in any sort of greenhouse, so long as there is means for ample ventilation and sufficient heat to extrude frost. But if the most is to be made of the plants, then a light sunny, polytunnel that can be heated is necessary.

Peat based growing medium is very good for the purpose, but Tomato plants are gross feeders so if an amount of loam can be acquired to mix with the base compost this will be very helpful. The mixing of the growing medium should be very precise, with equal parts of peat, pea gravel and loam, with a base dressing of Tomato fertilizer.

It is possible to acquire what are called Tomato grow bags, these are fine to start with but the feed in these bags does run out very quickly and supplement feeding is needed. Over the past twenty years we have done many tomato growing trials, and have concluded that the old ring culture is still the best way to grow and fruit tomatoes.

Outdoor Tomato culture:-

During the summer months Tomatoes are usually planted out in a prepared border, cultivation in pots being preferred for early crops. The border needs to be well drained and made suitable by deep digging and have plenty of home made compost incorporated into it, (home made compost making is dealt with in our article GARDEN COMPOST MAKING WORLD at

also if it is possible to obtain some well rotted farmyard manure this can be incorporated into the top 9inchs (23cm) also bonemeal is very beneficial, always use rubber gloves when handling bonemeal. From eight to ten week should be allowed from the time of sowing the seed until the plants are wanted for planting out, this time can be cut to six weeks if the more expensive F1 Hybrid seed is used. If a large amount of plants are required it is better to use the cheaper open pollinated seed.

Sow the seeds into seed trays of good quality seed and potting compost, specially prepare for this purpose. The seeds should be sown thinly as possible to stop damping of when they emerge in about ten days, hybrid seed will germinate much faster and have less failures.

When the seedlings have reached about one inch in height they are lifted and transplanted at about 2 inches apart into seed trays or single pots, they should stay in the greenhouse and be shaded from direct sunlight for a few days, then expose them to the light and give free ventilation.

In about three weeks the plants will be ready to pot into 5inch (13cm) pots, in which they will remain until planted out in pots or borders.

When nicely rooted in 5-inch pots, and from 8 to 10 inches in height they are ready for the final planting. If to be fruited in flower pots, choose a pot which is 8 inches wide; always plant the Tomato deep in the pot this will allow for top dressing of new compost, plus the stem of the plants will root into the new compost giving the plant more anchorage as it grows taller.

Press the compost firmly round and over the roots, stake the plants and move to the place where they are due to fruit. If planting in borders, let them be in rows and 15 inches apart in each direction. At every fifth row let the distance be 18 inches in order to allow room for the grower to get amongst the plants. Press the soil firmly round the roots in planting.

When growing in pots in the greenhouse the best way to train the shoots is to run a wire at roof height from one end of the house to the other, place a cane in the pot with the plant and run a string from the base of the cane and tie it to the wire at roof height, as the shoots grow on the plant twist them around the string.

Unlike, the cucumber and melon, the Tomato cannot be grown successfully without a certain amount of fresh air, which must be regulated carefully, so that the temperature is not lowered unduly, on cold days only a small vent should be left open, but not to cause a draft, when the days are sunny and the temperature is raised greatly both end doors can be opened if growing in a tunnel, in greenhouse all vents should be opened.

When Tomatoes are grown in pots the labour of watering is great, it is advisable to purchase an automatic watering system, the best system is a drip feed type, not a spray system these can scorch the foliage on the plants very easily on hot sunny days.

With most of the drip feed systems a bottle is supplied that can be filled with liquid feed, the system will dilute the feed as the water passes through the container and deliver it to the plant roots. With regular feeding the fruits will swell very fast so constant picking of the crop is needed, we have found over the last 20 years with the introduction of the new hybrid seeds that it is advisable to collect the fruit when changing from green to orange, these fruits can be stored in a box placed on the potting bench and they will ripen nicely there, the removal of the fruit allows more feed to go to the smaller fruits at the top of the shoots.

If you wish to read more please go to its all free, we have a Guest Book if you would like to leave any comments.

About the Author

Trevor Dalley has been growing Fuchsias and Chrysanthemums for sale to the gardening public commercially for the last 40 years and is now ready to pass on money making knowledge to you the reader for free.

Monday, 1 September 2008

What to do About Tomato Black Spot or Tomato Blight - by J Hfield

Have your tomatoes been struck by black spot? Are the fruits rotting and the leaves turning black? You may have what's called Tomato Blight.

Tomato blight is more common when the weather is cool and damp. It also occurs more if you keep planting your tomatoes/peppers/potatoes in the same place every year. They are truly a crop that needs to be rotated!

If your plant has fallen to the tomato black spot you need to act fast. Get rid of the plant, its roots and all leaves, burn it or put it in the garbage. Don't compost any of the waste or you can reinfect your plants next year.

It is also important to always water the plants down low, and don't sprinkle from overhead. Tomatoes just hate that.

Try to give your tomatoes enough space and good air circulation.

plant your tomatoes at the proper time for your area to ensure they are strongest during the best part of the growing season!

Good luck gardening! check out this website for more tomato tips For more Tomato tips, garden pictures and raised bed gardening check out

Friday, 15 August 2008

Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

Once you have had a taste of a home grown heirloom tomato you will never eat a store bought one again! Growing Heirloom Tomatoes can be tricky to grow so here are some tips.

I have found that starting them from seed indoors and then planting them outside at the proper time ensures the greatest success and volume of tomatoes. I've grown identical plants, but one from seed and one from a store bought plant. There was no comparison, the one grown from seed was stronger, healthier, produced more fruit and had less growing problems. Even though the store/nursery ones may look good, you never know how much stress they have been through. Stick with seeds if you can!

Even bugs know which tomatoes taste better. I have found that most tomato pests love heirlooms. Sure the hybrid plants may not suffer from some of the problems heirlooms do, but they don't have the taste or vigor either. Most heirloom tomato pests can be easily taken care of with a few simple steps.
Keep your plants clean, no loose fruits on the ground.
Make sure you stake your plants and tie them up well.
Pinch off any extra suckers, don't go overboard though.
Pick off any bugs, like tomato horn worm. If you see a huge weird moth around your plants get rid of that too, because most likely it is laying horn worm eggs. YUCK!

Heirlooms need consistant watering. If they go through too many periods of drought or overwatering they may crack. A good deep soaking is all that is necessary. Mulch your plants to keep the soil temperature more even and extend the growing season.

Plant marigolds and basil around your Heirlooms, they will ward off pests. Marigolds look adorable planted around tomatoes, and basil is a delicious companion plant for tomatoes.

Check out this website for free info on growing tomatoes and other veggies and tons of pictures!