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Baytree's Mark Cox is hoping for success in the annual family tomato growing contest




It doesn’t matter which way we turn at the moment, or what radio station, TV channel we switch over too, all the talk seems to be surrounding the coronavirus.As gardeners I think we need to remain level headed, and calm.

At Baytree Garden Centre where I work, I’m aware of the steps and measures that have been put into place to ensure the safety of staff and customers which, are designed to reduce the spread of the virus, and that is why I have no qualms in still buying plants and sundries from Baytree. Plus gardening is a great way of whiling away a couple of weeks off should the need come.

Last week we took delivery of our first batch of tomato plants. I remember smiling at the time because it just goes to show that life goes on and having secured a packet of Jammy Dodgers on the way into work that morning I felt all warm and fuzzy, but not feverish.It didn’t take much thought to decide that growing tomato plants and how to get the best results from these incredible little plants would be my topic this week.

From little seedilings, mighty tomatoes grow... (31814052)
From little seedilings, mighty tomatoes grow... (31814052)

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Just a word of warning though whilst tomato plants are available at the moment it doesn’t mean that they are hardy enough to be planted outside just yet. What we’ll do is grow them on indoors on a windowsill or a greenhouse if you have one.

I’ve chosen to grow cherry tomatoes as I prefer the flavour of the smaller fruit. When you get your young tomato plants home you’ll need to re-plant them in a larger pot just so that they have a chance to establish a good root system before planting out in early summer. When potting on its best to plant only one tomato plant into one 1 litre pot.

Fill the bottom of the pot with good quality multi-purpose compost. Whilst holding the tomato plant gently turn it over so that the plant and its roots become free of the pot they came in.

Now plant this into the pot and fill the soil around the root ball, let the new soil just cover the base of the plant and firm it gently into place. Stand your pot or pots into a long shallow trough and give your tomatoes a good drink of water to bed them in. After they’ve had a drink, move them to a sunny windowsill. They’ll need water every so often as they grow.

In our house we’re growing three plants again for our annual tomato competition, one’s mine, one's my wife’s and one's my daughter's. Each one has been carefully labelled and CCTV has been installed to ensure that there is no foul play. Grandad will be judging the best truss of tomatoes later in the year.

With spring only a few weeks away it’s important to feed your young trees, hedges and roses if you have them with a good quality fertilizer. Just make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

Having consumed four Jammy Dodgers and a fresh brew whilst digesting the instructions on the side of the Growmore’s box I now feel thoroughly versed in the correct application of said fertilizer. I sprinkled the Growmore around the base of each plant, raked the feed into the soil then gave it a good watering in. In a few weeks depending upon the weather I’ll add a layer of farmyard manure to the base of those plants.


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