Tips for terrific tomatoes

  • Last updated: 29 June 2023
Nothing epitomises summer more than a tangy homegrown tomato. Head Gardener Emma O’Neill shares her advice for an abundant harvest this summer.
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Bright and bountiful tomatoes come in all shapes and colours

When the stems of your baby tomatoes reach pencil thickness, you know it’s time to plant them into their final positions in the greenhouse or (after hardening off) outdoors.

Cordon tomatoes do well in deep (peat-free) grow bags or ‘long tom’ pots, and tumbling varieties can be planted into hanging baskets.

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Here’s my tips for a bumper harvest:

  1. Plant your tomatoes so the seed leaves are flush with the soil, or even deeper. Tomatoes form roots along any buried part of the stem.
  2. Choose a sunny, warm and sheltered spot if growing outdoors. Tomatoes convert sunlight into energy and need energy to make fruit. Therefore, the more sunshine they get, the more fruit they’ll produce!
  3. Feed container tomatoes three or four times over the growing season with a homemade comfrey feed.
  4. Cordon tomatoes will need ‘pinching out’ when the first flower truss appears. This is when you remove the side shoots between the main stem and the branches to focus the plants energy into fruiting. Use scissors or secateurs as a sharp cut is less likely to harbour disease. These side shoots can be used to grow more tomatoes – or pass on to friends.
  5. Cordons will also need staking. To give our support we tie them into string suspended from the top of our glasshouse.
  6. Grow a few companion plants around the bottom of your tomatoes, such as basil and French marigold, and you’ll not only deter whitefly, but you’ll also have a one pot salad.
  7. Water regularly, little and often, to avoid the fruits splitting - but don’t flood them. One to two inches a week should be sufficient. Keeping the plants on the drier side can boost yield and flavour.
Tomatoes growing in the green house