Tomato Gardeners Delight
Tomatoes require a little more effort to grow than some veg but we recommend them highly because they taste so delicious when home grown.
Gardeners Delight is our favourite outdoor tomato because it's quick maturing and produces masses of large cherry tomatoes. Many other tomato varieties will not grow fast enough outside to deliver a decent quantity of ripe fruit in the UK.
Time from seed to plate: 16 weeks
Sow tomatoes early in the year so they have plenty of time to ripen in the summer sun. Our propagator kits with 'Jiffy 7' compost pellets are ideal for sowing. Unless you want mountains of tomatoes four jiffys should be enough. Soak the pellets in water till they expand and sow two seeds in each one so they're just covered with compost. Put them in the propagator, cover, and place on a bright windowsill or in a greenhouse. Keep moist.
Within one or two weeks the tomato seeds should sprout. Remove the propagator lid at this stage. If two seedlings come up in the same jiffy remove the weaker one.
After a month or so the roots will have filled the jiffy and it's time to either plant out, or transfer the plants to the '3 inch' pots included in the kit to give them more growing room if it's still cold outside. Remove the jiffy bag encasing the compost, and plant firmly in the 3 inch pot filled with compost. Use the propagator lid as a watering tray.
Growing method: Seed propagating kit then plot.
Once the frosts are over - around mid May - plant your tomatoes out. Put into well composted soil, in a sunny and sheltered spot if you can. Space them 2ft apart, as the the planting plan on the right.
Push in a 6ft cane till it's very firm next to each one - link them at the top with smaller canes to give additional strength. Tie each plant loosely to each cane. Continue to do this as the plant grows.
Pinch off all the sideshoots that appear between the leaves and the main stem. This encourages the plant to grow tall. Once the plant reach the top of the cane snap off the growing tip to stop it flailing around (or tie in to any horizontal supports).
Once your first flowers have arrived, it's a good idea to start feeding your plants about once a fortnight with organic tomato food. This will dramatically boost the crop.
Keep well watered to ensure those toms are plump and juicy!
Pick regularly from July to September. Don't put them in the fridge or you'll lose the delicious sweet flavour.