Fancy alternatives such as melons or aubergines can be tricky, but tomatoes are a favourite because they’re dependable.
Even without a greenhouse, outdoor varieties are easy to grow, high yielding and delicious.
Where space is limited, you can raise them in patio pots.
There are even trailing kinds for hanging baskets, which are pretty as well as tasty.
Among frost-tender crops, the tomato is king.
Fancy alternatives such as melons or aubergines can be tricky, but tomatoes are a favourite because they’re dependable
Tomato plants are on sale now, but hurry: 안전놀이터 popular varieties get snapped up. Despite the urgency, it won’t be safe to put tender plants outdoors just yet.
As well as being frost sensitive, tomatoes are easily stressed by cold winds.
So protect your little plants and don’t put them outside before mid to late May.
Greenhouse tomatoes are different. They should be coming on nicely by now and may even be in flower.
BUSH VERSUS VINE
Some tomato varieties can be trained with a single stem — or cordon — which has fruit trusses at each leaf joint, but not at the stem tip.
These ‘indeterminates’ are ideal for greenhouses.
Whether grown inside or out, they need training on canes.
They include old favourite Ailsa Craig and modern cherry type Sweet Aperitif. ‘Determinate’ varieties flower at the stem tips and become sprawly bushes. That makes them good for outdoors.
They include high-yielding Red Alert, compact Vilma and Cherry Cascade for hanging baskets.
Tomatoes need fertile soil or high quality potting compost.
Grow them in a sunny, sheltered position and feed regularly. High potash liquid feeds such as Tomorite or Maxicrop Tomato Plus ensure good yields.
Greenhouse tomatoes thrive in growing bags — up to three plants per bag — or large pots.
TOP OF THE TOMS
With such a vast selection, choosing your tomato variety is never easy.
For me, flavour is the most crucial consideration. There’s no point in growing your own if they taste no better than something from a supermarket.
Health and vigour are important, too.
That’s why the F1 Cristal and early-ripening Shirley are popular for greenhouses.
Outdoors, Crimson Crush is highly resistant to the tomato’s deadliest disease — blight.
My favourite is Sungold: the sweetest, tastiest cherry type.
With such a wide range available, it’s fun to try novelties such as black-skinned Indigo Rose and Green Zebra, which has green and yellow stripes.
BEAT PESKY PESTS
Tomatoes are prone to pests.
The worst for greenhouse crops are whitefly and red spider mite, which can be controlled with predators from suppliers such as defenders.co.uk.
Keeping your greenhouse wellventilated and shaded from harsh sun discourages red spider and keeps crops healthy.
To control whitefly, companion planting with tagetes (marigolds) works brilliantly.
Tall, old-fashioned varieties such as Tagetes patula Nema Mixed, Crown Jewels or Naughty Marietta among your tomato plants will look pretty and discourage pests.
What’s more, that distinctive citrusy smell blended with musky tomato is the absolute essence of summer.