Tuesday 5 May 2020

Planting tomatoes

On Saturday I planted my tomatoes into their final homes. I had been keeping a close watch on the weather forecast, and I judged that the right moment had come. The night-time temperatures are the critical factor. For the next 10 days the lowest temperature predicted is 6C, and that's only for an hour or two, so I think the tomatoes will be OK. Once they go into their final homes it's very difficult to provide them with protection, on account of their 6-foot bamboo support canes (though one year I did transport all my plants into my garage for two days when the weather took a sudden turn for the worse!) [EDIT: I'm keeping an eye on the weather forecast, because it is looking increasingly likely that I may have to repeat this feat!]

Most of the young plants were about 12 - 15 inches tall, and beginning to outgrow the little 5-inch pots in which they have been growing for the last three weeks. I have put the plants of the biggest varieties into big (35-litre) black plastic pots, each with a bamboo cane for support. These ones will be grown as cordons - that's to say tall and slim, with the sideshoots removed. The potting mixture I have used this time is probably not ideal, but getting hold of compost is not easy at present. I used mostly the soil/compost mix from last year, which has been sitting in the pots all through the Winter. I did tip it out of the pots to aerate it though, and then mixed it with about 25% more composted stable manure (luckily I had bought 3 sacks of this just before the lockdown began). I also gave each pot a handful of Growmore general-purpose fertiliser.

As usual, I have put four of my favourite "Maskotka" plants into my tall wooden planter. This is a trailing bush variety, which produces a mass of large cherry-sized red fruits. I have reminded the plants that they are supposed to trail, by tying them loosely to some short sticks angled at about 45 degrees.

Two "Maskotka" in each of the black plastic crates

Out at the front of the house (where they will get afternoon and evening sun) I have put four more tomato plants. One is a cordon variety ("Artisan Mix") and is tucked away in a corner for protection and support, but the other three are bush varieties - two "Montello" and one "Divinity".

"Divinity" in the centre, flanked by two "Montello".

"Divinity" is a new one for me. Amongst other qualities, it is supposed to have good blight resistance, and also has evergreen genes that keep its foliage greener for longer. The fruits are red and cherry-sized. It will be interesting to see how this compares to "Maskotka", which has been my favourite for many years.

The black pots are balanced on those upturned terracotta-coloured pots in order to give them some height, so that the plants can trail downwards. It also gives the slugs more of a challenge!

Every year when writing about tomato planting I show a photo of the gadgets which I use to support the canes - at least, some of them, because I don't have enough and would dearly love to get some more. I have tried many different models over the years, but only one has worked well, and it looks like this:-

If you ever see any like this being sold, do please let me know!


  1. I hope the dreaded contamination stays away this year - we have enough to cope with.

    1. Amen to that! I did have one or two dodgy-looking Broad Beans, but I think that might have been caused by residues of contaminated compost from last year (I was naughty and didn't wash the pots!). This year I'm trying Melcourt Sylagrow and so far, so good.

  2. Can't wait to see how your tomatoes turn out!


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