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please help me make a success of my tomato plants! :)

(29 Posts)
mamacoffee Mon 03-Jun-13 15:44:48


they've started coming up and i have lovely little seedlings, about an inch high grin grin

i don't want them to go the way of my herbs which sprouted and then wilted sad

1. when do i feed them?
2. when do i separate them out? currently there are 5-6 seedlings in each pot and the pots are only about 1 inch squares blush
3. when i plant them in the garden, will they die if i put them straight into the soil?? the soil has had nothing grow on it except weeds for decadesyears

thank you!

Takver Mon 03-Jun-13 16:34:36

OK, I hate to say this but it is really very very late for them to be that small - you might want to think about buying some plants too?

Generally you'd sow by end April at the absolute latest. Unless they are a super-early variety (ie very quick cropping) then you're unlikely to get that much ripe fruit before autumn.

But, with these ones. How many pots with seedlings in do you have? And how many plants do you want to end up with? The easiest thing to do at this point would be simply to nip off all the surplus seedlings, and just grow on a single plant in each pot.

Otherwise, I would water the pots well, then very gently tip them out and separate and pot on into say 3 inch pots at this stage in a general purpose compost. Then once they are a bit bigger pot on into larger pots or growbags.

To be honest, if you haven't been cultivating the soil at all, I'd be inclined to grow the toms in containers/growbags, so long as you are around to water/feed regularly.

Takver Mon 03-Jun-13 16:35:57

There's good information from the RHS here - have a look at the 'grow' as well as 'sow' tabs.

mamacoffee Tue 04-Jun-13 22:07:40

hi there thanks so much for replying, and thanks for the link! thats really useful ive learnt a lot from it!

youre completely right, i'm too late for tomatoes, and i'm too late to be sewing most seeds i think!! the thing is, i'm quite for getting into gardening at all lol!i decided to do something late april, and i figured, better to do something whilst motivated than wait for next year to do everything at the right time and then lose my motivation iyswim!!

from what i read in the rhs link because they have two true leaves i need to separate them out now. i have 8 pots with seedlings, so i have quite a few! it seems a shame to waste them, i think i may offer the surplus to friends and freecycle. how many do you think are a reasonable number to keep? i have no idea how many tomatoes will come from each plant!

i think i will probably use containers once outside as you advise as the ground hasn't been cultivated yet (i plan to dig in some rotted manure soon)

many thanks!

Takver Tue 04-Jun-13 22:39:21

Not at all too late for most seeds! Only for toms/peppers/things like that.

You can still sow loads of stuff - just for example salads, spinach, chard/leaf beet, beetroot, carrots, dwarf french beans, basil, coriander, parsley

I probably wouldn't bother giving surplus plants to friends, tbh, they really aren't going to produce much from such a late sowing.

Myself, I'd probably give up on those baby toms, buy 3 or 4 plants (they should already be flowering by now), and sow lots of salads and herbs in containers as well.

mamacoffee Thu 06-Jun-13 17:28:23

thanksf or that thats really useful!

i see what you mean about the tomatoes but having seen them grow already i don't want to kill them off! i think it will be a learning experience for me to see how it all works for next year when i do everything at the right time! i'm hoping to get a small amount of fruit from the plants? i was advised by someone who used to grow tomato plants that i wasn't too late when i sewed the seeds mid may...

thank you!

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 07-Jun-13 07:31:28

If you want to keep going with this lot leave the strongest one per pot then soon pot them on into bigger pots. Then once they've got to a good size with a good root system, get a grow bag, loosen up to compost, cut in half, then stand on end so you've in effect made two pots.

Put one plant in each. Give it some support. Depending what the variety is you'll need to take out the side shoots - google will explain. Personally given when you've sown them once they get to the stage where they have two lots of flowers on I'd cut the tops off which will give you a better chance of getting tomatoes. Get hold of some tomato feed and feed as per instructions.

The thing you'll need to watch for is tomato blight which out door tomatoes are prone to getting. Having them small at this stage in the year means you have much less chance of getting any tomatoes before blight hits but it isn't totally inevitable and you may be lucky. It might be worth buying a couple of larger plants as well and hedging your bets a bit.

mamacoffee Fri 07-Jun-13 16:33:15

thank you!

ok i was contemplating just giving up them now, but twice today i have been reminded that apparently everything is late this year because of the bad weather- do you still think there's little point of carrying on with these?

i have repotted them now so i have 10 in individual 3 inch pots. i have bamboo sticks and jute string for when they are bigger and need support. the tip about cutting off the tops is very useful thank you!!

The (mmm) Monty Don said last week on the tellymavision to feed tomatos (his emphasis not mine).

I got lovely plants last year but 1 small green tomato didn't feed them at all though

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 07-Jun-13 16:57:28

Monty (very soothing) was trialling a method he'd seen someone else use to grow big juicy tomatoes. He's stuck them in terracotta pots but with a fraction of the compost usually used and then will be feeding daily . He's then going to compare against 3 in a grow bag and some using the pots he usua only uses.

Interesting idea but I know I'd get fed up with the daily feeding. Having said that mine are in Autopots so do get fed daily as th feed goes into the water tank and gets automatically released each it the water level drops. Very easy and excellent yields but expensive to buy in the first place.

mamacoffee Fri 07-Jun-13 18:28:45

still in two minds whether to give up or not, getting conflicting advice confused

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 07-Jun-13 19:47:18

No keep going, you have nothing to lose. Just be realistic about the fact you won't get buckets of tomatoes. It has been a difficult year with the weather and lots of us are struggling with various crops. It's good practice if nothing else. There are lots of different ways to grow tomatoes, everyone has their own preferred way after a couple of years of experimenting .

Leave them in their new pots for a bit until they get bigger then into their final position, whichever you decide to use. Growbag option is going to be the easiest. You've got everything ready for when they are bigger and can use the canes again next year. My first year was a bit if a disaster but over the last few years things have improved and I'm lucky enough to have a greenhouse. There are currently 3 plants with ripe tomatoes on them, hang in there.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 07-Jun-13 20:02:39

2 years ago Dolmio gave out seeds and there was a tomato growing thread. I don't think it was massively successful but it wasn't a good summer. My plants grown from those seeds went out onto the allotment but got blight and had to be taken out just when they were quite close to going red. I think some people did get some ripe ones.

If you carry on as you're doing and just leave a couple of flowering trusses you might just get some. Good luck smile

mamacoffee Fri 07-Jun-13 23:00:57

thank you i'll keep them then!

on another point, is there a diference in quality of seeds from different places? your dolmio point has made me wonder whether my herbs didn't work very well because they were freebies from pizza express...

WynkenBlynkenandNod Sat 08-Jun-13 08:51:35

Generally I haven't noticed much difference between cheap and expensive seeds, though the odd batch fails. I have a feeling I read some herbs aren't so easy from seed. What did you plant ? Sounds like you have been very busy in your garden this year smile

mamacoffee Wed 12-Jun-13 15:47:42

Hi there thanks for that, sorry for delay in posting again, planted basil, dill,mint and rocket. I've uprooted them now sad

My tomato plants are not doing so well now....I repotted them individually and added plant food to the compost for some, and those with plant food have a kind of white mould growing on the compost sad any ideas why this is and whether I can salvage them?

HOw much roughly would tomato plants cost if I just bought some?


catwithflowers Tue 18-Jun-13 13:12:58

Hi, as well as growing things from seed, have you considered buying herbs from the supermarket, the living herbs in the small pots, and potting them into much larger pots with decent compost? I do this every year for flat leaved parsley, basil, chives, thyme and mint and they last all summer long.

I'm lucky as I have a greenhouse to keep them in (along with the toms and the chillies) but have only a yard instead of a garden so have to grow everything in pots or growbags. It's amazing what you can grow. I have pumpkins in growbags, a courgette, French beans, runners, peas, all in deep pots. Okay, some of it might not work and its a pain watering them every day but its so exciting to try! Whereabouts are you? If you are in the North East, I have a 3 foot tomato plant you can have smile

WynkenBlynkenandNod Tue 18-Jun-13 20:53:24

Not entirely sure about the mould but they won't need feeding if in new compost for a bit. Scrape the mould off and replace with fresh compost I think.

Not sure how much they are in garden centres but not a huge amount. Do you know anyone who grows them? They may well have spares they would be happy to give you. Try a car boot sale or market, I've seen people selling them for 50/75p. Or maybe put a request On Freecycle to see if someone can help with rooting some side shoots for you.

Once you have an established plant it is very easy to root side shoots that you pinch out. These will flower quicker than if you were starting from seed.

mamacoffee Thu 20-Jun-13 13:56:17


Wasnt getting updates this so just saw this now sorry! I've officially given up on the tomato plants sad sad will try again next year

Our garden is paved over too it's the Borders which have soil etc that we're trying to work on. It's been an interesting few weeks and I've learnt loads!!

Can I ask a silly question? Is a growbag just a special kind of compost bag that you grow plants in? Do you actually grow the plants in the bag?

Ponders Thu 20-Jun-13 13:59:46

yes, you grow things in the bag - just make a hole in it & plant through the hole

it means you don't need a container (though there are growbag holders) or to shovel piles of compost

Ponders Thu 20-Jun-13 14:00:12

(make one hole per plant, that is - not one big hole grin)

Ponders Thu 20-Jun-13 14:04:09

oh, and, I have tomatoes in a hanging basket! I bought mine from Homebase a week or so ago but Aldi have them in today - cheaper than Homebase

they have hanging strawberries too. it's a good idea because with a bit of luck it'll keep the slugs at bay (& also the fruits can dangle in mid-air & not get dirty). the strawberries might less until next year, tomatoes won't though

Aldi hangers

sis Thu 20-Jun-13 14:21:02

mamacoffee whereabouts are you? I have some cayenne chilli plants looking for a good home if you are near northwest london

mamacoffee Fri 21-Jun-13 22:13:32

hi there

ponders i might try tomatoes in a hanging basket next year sounds like they would look lovely! are there any particular varieties that work best that way?

ok, so with the growbag, how do you, er, get it to look nice? sounds very practical, but id still like it to look good blush

catwithflowers Fri 21-Jun-13 22:43:32

Hmmm I don't think growbags can look attractive TBH. They are functional rather than beautiful.

Tomatoes in a hanging basket do look very pretty though smile

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