You don't have to have green fingers to grow tomatoes, it is an effortless task, and you only need a couple of plants to get plenty of delicious fruit in the summer months, for salads, tarts, soups, sauces and chutneys. Plus, if you have not converted to a vegan diet, a fresh tomato fried with bacon for a weekend treat is perfect.
Tomatoes come in all sizes from tiny cherry tomatoes through to giant beefsteak tomatoes, although flavoursome they are often slower to grow and ripen. At the end of the season, green tomatoes are great for chutneys.
If you don't have a greenhouse or a lot of space, a few patio bush tomatoes plants popped into individual pots, or hanging baskets works well, needing little space as they grow into a small bush and don't require staking.
For the main tomato crop, cordon or tall plants are best; they can reach heights of 6ft, so do require staking.
Tomato plants are in garden centres or even local supermarket from early spring, they do not like frost, so must be kept inside until it is frost-free. Most plants will need hardening off before putting outside.
Tomatoes are also easy to grow from seed, growing plants for outdoors sow seeds from late March to early April. For greenhouse plants, sow seeds from the beginning of February right through to mid-march.
Sow into small pots, and place in a propagator or use a plastic bag to keep warm. Once they have two leaves, they can be replanted into larger containers. When they get the first flowers, they can be replanted to even large containers or grow bags for the greenhouse or pop into the garden if the frost has passed.
The cordon plants stem will need to be tied to the stake, plus any side shoots will need removing regularly. Once the plants have reached the top of the greenhouse remove the growing point of the main stem. Do the same for the outside tomatoes once there are six/seven trusses high, to give the energy to the fruit.
Bush or hanging basket types do not need support plus won't need side shoots removing.
Tomatoes do like to be grown in direct sunlight and shelter from winds so make sure you choose a sunny, shelter spot.
Like everything, tomatoes need looking after. They need regular watering to keep the soil moist and feeding every week with tomato fertiliser. It is the soil that needs watering, tomatoes don't like their leaves or fruit getting wet.
When ready for picking try this easy, but tasty tomato recipe:-