First published in Ann Janes St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by

A comment that crops up again and again, year after year is ‘why go the bother to grow tomatoes when you can buy them easily in the local shop?’ Whilst I can see a sort of logic in this question it is only ever asked by anyone who hasn’t compared the home-grown fruit with those commercially available. The taste of a freshly picked tomato should be the stuff of poetry.

If you do decide to try for yourself it is probably too late to grow your plants from seed but there are plenty of healthy and vigorous young plants on sale in the garden centres. If you are growing outside by buying the plants this late they will be ready to go straight out. There are many varieties to choose from but the one thing that they all have in common is the need for regular feeding and watering. This year I am only growing in large pots outside, 30cm are a good size, or you could use growbags. Unless you are trying the newly available grafted varieties plant deep, well above the growing line from the previous pot. This will encourage more roots which will result in more fruit. Plant in a sunny position allowing plenty of space between as their leaves shouldn’t be close enough to touch. Depending on the variety you are growing the plants are best trained on a single stem by pinching out the small sideshoots. The tumbler tomatoes that I planted in chimney pots are just beginning to show flowers and will now need feeding weekly with a proprietary tomato feed. Even though tomatoes are self-fertile the flower clusters need to be tapped gently as it is important for the flower pollen to move to a different part of the flower for the fruit to set. Pick as soon as they are ripe, this helps more fruit to develop.

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