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I was born in Guernsey (but now live in Brittany) and our main industry was growing tomatoes although that industry has now virtually disappeared. Growing tomatoes to a Guernseyman is like wine to a Frenchman, it's in our blood! I do not profess to be an expert, but I have picked up a few tips and techniques which work for me.


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Planting out Toms in the Polytunnel

My early tomatoes that were planted out a few weeks' ago are looking really healthy. As you can see, the fruit is swelling nicely and the plant is nice and compact. I should get about 8 to 10 trusses to the wire, before they are grown over the top.
The lettuce is ready for harvesting and is quite a few weeks' ahead of the ones that we transplated outside, so we will have a good succession of produce.

My later tomatoes have stagnated a little, so although a little small, I have decided to plant them straight into the soil, rather than pot them on into larger pots. It has been extremely hot in the polytunnel of late and they dry out too quickly even in slightly larger pots.

The only problem planting too early into the soil is that you can sometimes get too much foliage and not enough fruit setting, but I would rather have a good strong plant at the start, because they are going to be cropping well into autumn.

If I find I do have too much foliage, I will just give a higher potash feed, which helps control growth .

On the left of the small tomatoes are my peppers, which will go in the soil in a few weeks' time. It has been a really hard year to grow seedlings this year. After sowing, the temperatures dropped too low for far too long, especially at night, and lately it has been extremely hot. So I have decided that most of my plants will be planted into the soil at a slightly earlier stage in their growth.
A short video of this year's crop so far May 2010

video

I also did a really silly thing with some of my seedlings, as I had sown so many, like we all do. I thought that I would spread out my bags of compost a little when transplanting my seedlings into small pots, so I mixed it with some soil and a little 'very well rotted' compost.

The results were that the soil did not drain as quickly as potting compost does, and also it did not have enough nutrients. Luckily, they will be fine once transplanted into the soil, but I will not be trying that experiment again. I should have known better at my age!

As you can see the plants on the left are far greener grown just in potting compost.



2 comments:

  1. Hi it's anonymous again.
    I have a couple of questions please.
    I have some big pots to transplant my tomatoes plants in as they are going outside, could I use growbags or are they only good in greenhouses /polytunnels?
    I made the mistake of buying moneymaker tomato seeds as well as lidl hartzfeur, bakkers totem and marmande and montfavet. The Hartzfeur are still small, only one totem has made it to a decent size and none of my marmande have, but I am inundated with money maker and a few montfavets althought the latter are still small! For next year, what would you recommend?

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  2. Hi Anonymous
    Growbags were introduced as a growing medium for growers with poor, or contaminated soil. They could also control the exact nutrients with a drip feed.
    The peat should be watered little and often and never left to dry out, and need nutrients to be added a few times a week with the water, but will produce good crops.
    If you feel the watering is a problem, you could plant them into a large pot and let the roots grow through the bottom into the soil. This will give you a reserve of deeper moist soil and some nutrients.

    As for varieties, this is difficult to answer as there are now so many on the market and it depends where you are growing them.
    I like Cotoluto Fiorentino for a good beefsteak tomato, which also can be grown outside. Allicanti and Alsa Craig are good standard varieties. Roma is quite a good bush tomato for indoor or outdoor.
    This year in the polytunnel, I am trying black tomatoes, Chocolate Cherry and striped ones called Tigerella.
    I also bought some raised plants, which are Montfavet, which you have. They are looking really good in the greenhouse, but did have a better start than my own raised plants.
    I will eventually get around to doing a whole section on varieties and will be asking for people's favorites for their particular conditions.

    If I were you, I would choose the strongest plants you have and concentrate on them for this year.

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