You know I think we Brits have a love affair with the tomato, ever since it was introduced hundreds of years ago.
The ‘love apple’, it was first called, and we’ve been in love with it ever since.
Most of us try and grow perhaps three or four of them, there are three here against a sunny shed wall facing south, and if you can get them in a warm and sunny part of your garden, and plant them outdoors at the beginning of June then you can grow them outside.
Safer perhaps to grow them in a greenhouse where they’re protected from frost, where they will ripen and develop that much more quickly.
But even out here we’ve got a few coming now.
What do you do though, to train them?
There are two distinct kinds of tomato.
Bush tomatoes, where you can let them go almost wild, just thinning them out a little, to let some light get at the fruits. But the ones that we grow on a single stem, we call ‘cordon tomatoes’, and that means making sure that only one stem develops like this.
So when you do get a side shoot in the leaf axil like this, the best thing to do is to get a little knife, a sharp one, and cut it out.
The reason you’re doing this, is to make sure that all the plant’s energy and effort is diverted up this main stem, and into the flour trusses like this.
When the flowers are open, spray them gently with tepid water every day if you can, it encourages fruit-setting.
Then you will see these little tiny tomatoes beginning to develop.
It does begin to get top heavy as it grows, so with soft twine like this, make a figure-of-eight around the stem, so passing that twine around the cane at the back, so it comes around the plant very gently tying it in.
Don’t make it too tight and constrict the flow of sap up the stem, but just like that so it’s held in, and then cut off like that. That now won’t go anywhere.
Now if you look at this particular plant, it’s got one, two, three, four, five trusses of tomatoes.
That’s pretty much as many as you’re going to get if you’re lucky outside.
So what you can do then, is snip out the top of the plant with your knife, just cut out the very top of the shoot.
It will stop it growing any further up there.
You can see there’s another big side shoot that I missed there.
That too can come out.
And the plant’s energies are now being concentrated into the amount of flower trusses that you’ve got at this time of year.
Quite enough, get too greedy, it’ll start trying to do too much up there, and down here, nothing will ripen quite so quickly.
Watering – try and keep this compost evenly moist at all times.
If you let it dry out between waterings, and then soak it, two things happen.
One, the fruit skin starts to get hard when it’s allowed to dry out, and when you re-water it can split because it’s no longer elastic.
The other thing is, you can get sunken black areas on the underside of the fruit if you’re watering it erratically.
That’s called blossom end rot, and it makes the fruits inedible.
They’re not poisonous, just unpleasant.
But then, when they get to this sort of stage, you want to make sure that as soon as that fruit is set, you’re feeding them with dilute liquid tomato food like this, about once a week.
Do it at the manufacturer’s instructed dilution, don’t try and make it stronger, it does no good at all.
But dilute this, there’s even a measure the top to dilute.
In your watering can.
Then when the compost is moist, not when it’s dry, if it’s moist, this can go straight into action.
A once-weekly feed like that, will make sure that as well as being full of sap, because yo’ve made sure the moisture’s there, they’ve also got the nutrients to produce fruit which ripens.
Now these three plants I put in several weeks ago, this one was the grafted one, and sure enough, it’s the first to ripen.
When you get your first fruit, it’s a magic moment.