Growing tomatoes

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FLAVOURSOME: Healthy tomatoes.

IF you have grown a few vegetables in your garden or in pots on your terrace or balcony, you have probably grown tomatoes. They are by far the most popular of items grown for the kitchen at home. I could call a tomato a vegetable and be legally correct, but botanically wrong as it is a fruit. This is an example of the tax office defying botanical science to ensure a healthier budget. 

Tomatoes are used in the kitchen, in most cases, with vegetables so it is legally classified by use rather than what it grows as. Whatever you may wish to call it, the plump produce of the tomato plant is a delight to grow and add to salads, pizza, paella, sandwiches and so many more forms of culinary art.

From mini cherry sprays to beefeater giants there is a tomato for every occasion. I have grown golden, pear shaped, roman, pink, siberian, early, late and lots in between. Some years I grow too many, which is great for friends and neighbours, and other years not quite enough. Each season is different with too much or little rain, early and late frost, overcast skies or scorching sun.

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If your tomatoes haven’t done well this year, don’t give up as next year could be a bumper crop. 

We can help them along with well composted soil mix and regular watering to ensure constant soil moisture, add appropriate nutrients during the different growth periods, put structural support to keep the tomatoes elevated off the ground and maximise light exposure while minimising sun scorching, prune lateral growth and tips that may interfere with the form you need the plants to grow and check regularly for pests and diseases that may need action taken. 

This a lot of work and commitment to do well but usually improves the quality of the crop enormously. 

A gardener wanting to grow abundant tomatoes may need skills in meteorology, structural engineering, soil science infirmity management and plant nutrition to perfect their crop, but I have seen bountiful crops grown, albeit not always the best quality, at ‘fin de la semana’ weekend hideaways with the least consideration or care. 

The main secret seems to be to plant loads of seedlings at the traditional time in mid-late spring, in manured soil, water profusely at planting and just leave them to grow. After that water when you can and harvest when ready.

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