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Tomatoes growing in Mediterranean Biome

How to grow tomatoes

We share our top tips on how to grow tomatoes outside, when you don’t have the luxury of a greenhouse – including planting them from seed, treating tomato blight, and making your own tomato feed using comfrey leaves.


Top tips to growing tomatoes

There really is nothing better than home grown tomatoes. Great news for those with greenhouses, but what about the rest of us? Well here at Eden we grow plenty of tomatoes outside, sometimes with fruit still ripening into November.

With a sunny spot in your garden, space for some pots or a grow bag and a minimum temperature of 10 degrees Celsius, you can grow tomatoes too.

Top tomato tips for beginners

Which tomatoes to grow

Did you know, that when tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) were introduced to Britain in the 16th century from their native South America, they were branded inedible because of their close resemblance to the toxic, deadly nightshade? Since then, all sorts of gorgeous-tasting varieties have been cultivated…

Our favourite varieties

When choosing a tomato variety, go for one that’s not only blight-resistant, but suitable for the spot it’s to grow in. For taller growing (cordon) varieties, try Gardener’s Delight, Chadwick Cherry, Money Maker, Sweet Olive, or Alicante.

For pots or hanging baskets, try bush or tumbling varieties such as Tumbling Tom, Garden Pearl, or Tumbler.

You might even consider heritage or organic varieties, tomatillos (golf-ball-sized fruits surrounded by a papery husk, which have a tart flavour and are a staple of Mexican cuisine), or beefsteaks – great for cooking – and showing off!

Or perhaps you’re looking for a tomato for something in particular...?

  • For sun drying: Principe Borghese da Appendere
  • For stuffing: Beefmaster
  • For making passata or ketchup: Roma
  • For salsa: Cream Sausage
  • For salads: Sungold
  • For eating straight off the vine: Apricot Dreams
  • For throwing! Muchamial

How to grow tomatoes

Dealing with tomato blight

Blight, Phytophthora infestans, is probably the biggest concern when growing tomatoes. Spores can survive in infected seeds or be blown in from miles away, but will only affect a plant if landing on wet foliage or fruit. It starts as ugly, brown blotches on leaves, but can quickly spread to fruit and other plants.

  1. Pick resistant varieties – but be aware this may only delay any infection.
  2. Use a reputable supplier and don’t save seed from infected plants.
  3. Change where you put plants in the Solanaceae family (including aubergines, potatoes, peppers and petunias)  every few years. This is known as ‘crop rotation’.
  4. Allow good air movement around plants. You can do this by spacing them well apart, staking well, and removing side and old shoots.
  5. When watering, try to water in the morning. Make sure you water only the soil, rather than the foliage itself.
  6. In early stages of a blight infection, remove diseased leaves.
  7. Use copper sulphate solution to help protect healthy foliage.
  8. Sign up to the free Blight Watch service, which sends alerts about blight-risk periods, based on temperature and humidity.

By Duana Pearson.