Top tips for success when growing tomatoes
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Top tips for success when growing tomatoes

PEACHES only grow in my memory now.

Years ago, I trained a young tree in fan fashion against the south-facing wall near the long glasshouse.

I used to pollinate it in February with a rabbit’s tail stuck to a long bamboo, and later marvelled at the downiness of the fruit, and how they ripened when temperatures soared.

I grew ‘Black Hamburg’ grapes, soft fruits, and strawberries.

Believe it or not, the family wouldn’t touch any of these, for spiders lived near the peach, and greenflies were sometimes seen on the top fruit.

So now I restrict my writing to happenings in the ornamental garden but every now and again I delve into the world of fruit and vegetables.

My reasoning is Covid related. Many, nowadays, wish to try a little tomato growing (for example) or chance their luck with fruit such as strawberries or gooseberries.

These undertakings are fine and salty for the experienced, but unless a modicum of information is readily available to the first-time grower, problems arise and cause bitter disappointment.

This is particularly true with tomato culture, so today I set before readers the causes (and remedies) for the six most common complaints affecting home-grown tomatoes:

LEAF ROLL: Unlike potatoes, rolled tomato leaves do not indicate disease but a wide variation between day and night temperatures. The inward curling of young leaves is usually taken as a good sign (provided they remain dark green) and there is no need to act.

SPLIT FRUITS: This is a common complaint with both indoor and outdoor grown varieties. It is caused by heavy watering following a period of water shortage. Skins harden during hot, dry periods and if there is a sudden increase in water the developing fruits will crack and split. No treatment is necessary apart from keeping the roots evenly moist.

BLOSSOM END ROT: This condition is most often found where Grow Bags are used coupled again to irregular watering. Leathery, dark-coloured patches occur at the bottom, blossom end of the fruit spoiling it entirely. No treatment can be given save more regular watering especially when the fruits are swelling.

DRY SET: When the air in a greenhouse becomes too hot and dry, and pollination is still taking place on upper trusses, the fruits fail to swell. They remain the size of a match head and no amount of coaxing will stir them to grow bigger. There is no cure, but in order to limit the occurrence mist the plants with clear water each morning and evening.

YELLOW LEAVES: Yellowing between the veins of tomato leaves indicates a magnesium deficiency, and it can be eliminated by applying Epsom Salts (half ounce to a pint of water) in spray form to the leaves. Prevent further outbreaks by feeding with a fertiliser containing magnesium.

Under average conditions, the first amateur-grown tomatoes will be ready for picking any day now. Harvesting can continue up to October at which time all large and reasonably sized green fruits should be picked and stored in a tray in a drawer.

Next to this tray place a couple of ripe apples and these will generate a ripening gas called ethylene.  In no time all the tomatoes will come to perfection.