Use ‘pinching’ trick to get ‘the best results’ from your tomato plants – ‘boosts fruiting’

Alan Titchmarsh offers tips on watering tomato plants

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Tomato plants are incredibly rewarding to grow, offering a delicious crop of juicy, red salad fruits once harvest season arrives. Tomatoes are easy to grow and taste best when grown in full sun. There are many different varieties of tomato to grow, including cherry, plum and beefsteak, each with its own distinctive shaped fruit, flavour and culinary use. However, if you want to get the absolute best from your crop, there are some key care tips you should follow.

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Tomatoes are one of the most popular garden crops amongst Brits and while they aren’t necessarily hard to grow there are a few steps keen gardeners should follow to avoid common issues.

Samantha Richards, garden gazebo expert at Gazeboshop spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk on her top five tips to ensure gardeners grow the best tomato crop possible.

She shared a professional tip to get “the best results” out of tomato plants and to “boost fruiting” by using the “pinching” trick.

The expert said: “For growing purposes, tomato plants are divided into two distinct categories according to their growth habit. 

“‘Bush’ (determinate) types are left unpinched and need only to be loosely tied to canes to prevent them from sagging. 

“‘Cordon’ varieties (indeterminate), also known as vine tomatoes, need pinching out and training during the growing season to get the best results and boost fruiting. 

“If you’re not sure which variety you have, the seed packet will tell you which type they are.”

Although it is currently late spring, Samantha noted that it is still not too late to make a start on these plants.

She explained: “Tomatoes will not flourish in the cold so one of the keys to growing tomato plants is to ensure you don’t plant them too early. 

“While some people may have already planted their tomato seeds now is not too late to make a start and with summer on the horizon the plant will have maximum exposure to sunlight.”

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Tom Hilton, director of hydroponic specialists, National Greenhouse, shared the “best conditions” for growing tomato seeds with Express.co.uk.

He said: “Regardless of where you want your tomato plants, their seeds are best sown indoors in warm conditions.

“A good practice is to use a small pot of seed compost that is well-watered and sow three or four seeds on the surface of the compost (making sure the pot is filled), before covering it with vermiculite. 

“If you have a heated propagator, that is ideal, otherwise, make sure the potted plant is kept at a temperature of around 18 degrees celsius. Warm windowsills can do just fine also. 

“Another tip is to cover it with a clear plastic bag on the windowsill. 

With regular watering, after a month, you should see some flowering, according to Tom.

As well as maintaining good moisture in the soil, fertiliser is also an essential when growing tomatoes.

The gardening pro said: “You can also boost fruiting by feeding the plants every 10 to 14 days with a high-potassium liquid fertiliser once you see the first fruits begin to swell.”

Samantha agreed on the need for fertiliser, but suggested a weekly feed instead.

She said: “To boost fruiting, especially with plants in containers, feed once a week with a high potassium liquid fertiliser once the first fruits start to swell. 

“There are lots of very good organic tomato fertilisers available on the market.”

To help tomato plants retain moisture for longer and to prevent weeds growing, the expert suggested applying mulch.

She explained: “Lay a thick layer of mulch over the soil around tomato plants to help hold moisture in the ground and deter weeds. 

“Use garden compost or well-rotted manure, but leave a gap around the base of the stem, to prevent rotting.

“It’s important to note that if you are growing tomatoes in a greenhouse you should have doors and ventilators open during the day to attract pollinating insects which help to develop a bumper crop of fruit. 

“You can also spend a little time in the middle of the day, gently tapping the plants to get them to release their pollen.”

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