Gardening Magazine

Planting Tomatoes

By Mwillis
Last weekend I planted-up six of my tomatoes into their final homes, big 40cm self-watering containers:
Planting tomatoes
I was a bit dubious about the weather, which is why I only planted six, even though I plan to have at least sixteen. By the middle of May the chances of getting frost in my part of the world should be very small, but you never know. As it happens, I'm glad I only did six, because on Tuesday night the temperature fell to only just above freezing (1.3C to be precise). Fortunately I had taken heed of the weather forecast and carried the tomato-containers into the garage - which was not easy, since they are quite heavy and have a 5-foot cane sticking up!
Planting tomatoes
Since I had to go out to work early as usual, the tomatoes remained in the garage until Wednesday evening when I dutifully took them back outside. Actually, I bet they wished I hadn't because Thursday was a rotten day - wet and windy, with the maximum daytime temperature reaching only 9C.
It wasn't practical to move 26 containers of potatoes into the garage, so I covered them with a length of fleece - that 10-metre piece that I had bought as my "insurance policy". This was exactly the occasion for which I had bought it, and it served the purpose nicely.
Planting tomatoes
This year I am trying to be disciplined with the tomatoes - by which I mean not attempting to grow too many. This is hard for me, since there are so many varieties that I really do want to grow. As I mentioned, the plan is to have 16 tomato plants (well, maybe 20 at a push...). If the Summer is anything like decent, watering loads of tomato-containers could be a chore. This is why my preference is for the so-called "self-watering" type of pot.

Planting tomatoes

This is my preferred set-up for growing tomatoes

It has a reservoir in the base, which you can top-up via a vertical plastic tube. This will keep a tomato plant supplied with moisture for 2 or 3 days, but not much more if the weather is hot and sunny. I usually water them every day, aiming to keep them evenly hydrated in order to reduce the chances of them getting Blossom End Rot.

Planting tomatoes

Blossom End Rot

Yesterday I planted another six tomatoes:
Planting tomatoes

This is not the final configuration of the pots. When the tomato plants get a bit bigger, the pots will need to be spread further apart, in a single row, otherwise they will not get enough light or air.
Planting tomatoes

This weekend I will be trying to get all the other tomatoes planted, because they are getting too big for the 5" pots in which they are currently living. I say "all the others", but inevitably there will be a few that I don't have room for, which will be given away to friends. This is always a sad moment, because I hate disposing of perfectly good plants, but at least it is better than just sticking them in the compost bin.

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