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Bag Up Some Tomatoes

Tomatoes grow very successfully in grow bags in a greenhouse or oudoors. Crops can be improved by inserting bottomless pots full of soil into the grow bag to increase the volume for better root growth.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

Buy young plants in late spring, or sow seed indoors earlier in the season.

When to Start: Mid-spring
At Their Best: Early autumn
Time to Complete: 2 hours over a few months

Varieties to Try

'Black Russian'
'Gardener's Delight'
'Marmande'
'Shirley'
'Summer Sweet' F1
'Sungold' F1

Materials Needed:

  • two tomato plants
  • grow bag
  • two plastic pots
  • Stanley knife
  • some extra soil
  • stake (bamboo cane or chestnut stake)
  • garden twine

Cut Out Holes

Cut the bottom off the pots, then place them on the grow bag and cut around them. Push the pots into the bag and fill them up with the spare soil.

planting tomatoes in grow bagsHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Plant Into the Pots

Plant one tomato per pot at the same level as it was growing in its container. Plant straggly plants a little deeper. This encourages new roots to form along the buried stem, helping stabilize the plants.

plant one tomato in pot at same level as root ballHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Pinch Out Sideshoots

As the plants grow, small sideshoots appear off the main stem. These should be removed as soon as possible because they will take energy away from the ri-pening fruits. When they are small, simply pinch them out with your fingers.

remove small side shoots on tomato plantsHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Tie In Main Stems

Tomato plants need to be regularly tied in to a sturdy support. Make a figure-eight knot using twine, tying tightly around the support, and loosely around the plant stem, to allow room for growth.

tomato plants need to be tied in to sturdy supportHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Nip Out the Top

You can help the plant put all its energy into ripening the fruits by preventing it from putting on too much growth. After outdoor plants have set four trusses of fruits, and greenhouse plants six, nip out the top shoot with your fingers.

nip top of tomato plant after it maturesHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Fruiting and Harvesting

Tomatoes are best when picked fully ripe, but you are likely to have some green tomatoes at the end of the season. Cutting back on watering can help shock the plant into ripening the fruits. If it is getting cold and your tomatoes must be har-vested, pull up the whole plant and hang it by its roots somewhere cool and dark to finish ripening.

  • harvesting ripe and green tomatoesHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • tomatoes are best if allowed to ripen on vineHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Tip: Careful Watering

Cracks can appear in the skin just as fruits are ripening. The problem is due to changes in growth rate, caused by fluctuating temperatures and erratic watering; as growth slows during a cool, dry period, skins harden and do not have the elasticity to cope if growth later picks up and fruits swell. It is a particular problem in soft-grown plants: those that have been fed too much nitrogen. While you cannot control temperatures, you can make sure watering is regular, and that you provide the correct feeding regime. Make provisions for watering if you go away, even for a few days, and feed weekly with a specially formulated tomato feed, one rich in flower-and fruit-promoting potassium.

cracks can appear in skin as fruits are ripeningHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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