How to grow tasty tomatoes in 5 easy steps
Growing your own tomatoes is as easy as one, two, three! Whether you're a budding beginner or a gardening guru, tomatoes are a firm favourite as they're so easy to grow and give back lots of tasty produce!
They can be grown in containers, grow bags, straight into the ground or in a greenhouse – making them perfect for gardens of every shape and size. And because they’re so easy to grow, they’re a great activity for getting the kids involved in too! Take a look at our five easy steps and let's grow some tasty toms!
What you’ll need
Before getting stuck in, make sure you’ve got these growing essentials to hand:
1. Choose your seeds
With 19 varieties to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding which tomatoes to grow. There are small-fruited cherry types right through to monster beefsteaks, in colours from standard red fruit to yellow, orange, green, purple and striped as well as tall ones, bushy ones and even trailing varieties for growing in hanging baskets...phew!
Once you’ve picked your perfect variety, check the seed packet for how it grows. Some tomatoes grow upwards and will need a little extra support, whereas some grow side shoots which need snipping off. Here’s the most common ones you’ll find:
Cordon (or indeterminate) - these varieties can grow up to 1.8m (6ft) tall so will need tall supports. They’re ideal for growing in greenhouses, in a sunny spot outdoors in the ground, or in a pot against a wall. Because these varieties grow so tall, they’re a great choice for smaller gardens and will produce a nice, heavy crop. They’ll need lots of attention with regular watering, feeding, supporting and pinching out of side-shoots.
Bush (or determinate) - these types of tomatoes tend to be shorter and wider. They’re great for smaller gardens, pots and growing bags but can also be grown in hanging baskets, with the stems trailing over the sides. These varieties are the easiest type to grow and don't need lots of attention apart from watering and feeding. The stems don’t usually need support, unless they become heavy from a bumper crop of tomatoes!
2. Sow your seeds
It’s best to start by sowing your seeds indoors in a warm, sunny place. Sow from late February to mid-March if you’re planning on growing from a greenhouse, or from late March to early April if they’ll be moving straight outside.
Fill a small pot with some wilko sowing and cutting compost. Add a good sprinkling of water to the compost then add 3-4 seeds. Cover with another fine sprinkling of the compost and lightly water again.
Make sure the pots are in a warm sunny spot and it should take around 7-14 days for seedlings to appear.
3. Plant out
After a couple of weeks, your seedlings will need more room to grow in their own individual pots.
Fill each pot with some multi-purpose compost and water. Make a hole in the compost for the seedling and then carefully remove from the smaller pot into the larger one. The seedlings are really delicate at this stage so handle with care, always holding by the leaf and not the stem. Pop them in a greenhouse or on a well-lit windowsill at a constant temperature above 16 degrees.
When the weather gets warmer and the last frost has passed, your seedlings can be planted outside. In peak summer the plants will need watering up to twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. You can check if they need watering by feeling the compost. If it’s wet and compact, there’s no need to water, but if it’s dry to the touch, it will need some water. Keep your watering consistent throughout the growing season because changes in water levels can damage the tomatoes.
Our Clever Pots tomato planter makes tomato growing even easier! This self-watering planter has a reservoir at the bottom which provides the plant with a constant supply of water. There’s also a built-in slot for a cane so your plant doesn’t blow over in the wind – that's a little win!
4. Feed your tomatoes
Once you start to see flowers forming on your plants, it’s a good idea to feed them every 10-14 days to boost fruiting. wilko tomato plant feed is high in magnesium and seaweed to give your tomatoes the best start and to help promote fruiting and flowering. Just add water and you’ll get 66 watering can’s worth of feed from just one bottle!
5. Harvest time!
Your tomatoes should start to ripen from mid-summer onwards. Make sure you allow them to ripen for the best flavour. Smaller tomatoes will ripen quicker so check your plant every few days and pick as they become ready. Aside from the colour, you’ll know they’re ready when they feel tender (not squishy) and pick off the stem easily.
Top tip: Pick them with the stalk still attached just before they ripen. This can help to prevent the tomatoes splitting or bruising, which can happen if they’re left to ripen on the vine.
Tomatoes are best enjoyed freshly picked. Give them a wash and chop them up into a tasty salad. Ripe tomatoes can be stored in a fridge for up to a week. If you find you’ve got a bumper crop why not whisk up a tasty tomato soup or get stuck into some batch cooking?
Easy fixes for tomato growing problems
Sometimes tomato growing doesn’t always go to plan, but here’s how you can fix some of the most common problems to keep those tasty tomatoes on track.
Blossom end rot – dark patches can sometimes appear on the bottom of your tomatoes. This is usually caused by patchy watering so try to keep watering as regular as possible.
Tomato leaf mould - the upper side of the leaves start to yellow, and the underside has a grey mould. This mostly affects tomato plants grown in a greenhouse and good ventilation helps to prevent this.
Splitting / cracking – maintain consistent watering and feeding routines whilst keeping the plants above 16 degrees in a sunny spot at all times.