Tomato growing mistakes to avoid or ‘risk’ plants ‘contracting diseases’

Gardening: Homebase shares tips to help grow tomatoes

Growing your own tomatoes has several benefits, with one tomato plant providing plenty of fruit for the whole season.

Not only are they delicious and versatile, they are relatively easy to grow as long as they are planted correctly and taken care of correctly.

According to Holly Jones at Garden Street, there are five common mistakes many people make which could result in yield loss as well as disease.

1. Planting too early

The expert explained: “If tomato seeds are planted too early, when the soil isn’t warm enough throughout the day it will prevent the tomatoes from growing and can cause issues such as blossom drop, which is where the flowerings fall off before the fruit forms.”

When to sow tomato seeds depends on location as well as where they are going to be grown.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), tomatoes can be sown from late February to mid-March if growing in a greenhouse or from late March to early April if they’ll be outside.

2. Planting tomatoes too close

Holly said: “By planting tomato seeds too close together you risk stunting plant growth. You also risk the plants being overcrowded, which can result in them not receiving enough direct sunlight.”

Gardeners should plant tomatoes deep, so the first set of leaves is just above the soil surface before firming them into the soil.

They should be spaced around 45-70cm apart, depending on the eventual size, so make sure to check seed packet instructions.

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A grow bag is great for planting the tomatoes in as this will help to keep them the correct distance apart, or plant them in separate containers.

3. Watering inconsistently

Tomato plants don’t need to be watered too often, according to the expert, so it is important they are not overwatered.

Watering tomato plants too much could cause them to rot, which will result in a loss of plant and any hope of fruit.

The expert noted: “However, it is still important to ensure the plants are watered, and by watering consistently once or twice a week you can ensure there is consistent moisture.”

4. Not staking the tomato plant

Holly continued: “Ideally, tomato plants need to be staked to keep them upright. If this isn’t done then the plants can end up on the ground and potentially contracting diseases from other plants that can harm the tomato plant.”

To stake the tomato plants, a number of items can be used such as bamboo or wooden branches, making sure to tie them as the plant grows.

5. Forgetting to harvest

The gardening expert said: “By not picking the tomatoes at the right time, you risk them rotting on the plant and falling to the ground. 

“Take the tomatoes off before they are fully ripened, and place them in a sunny window to fully ripen before eating.”

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