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  How to Grow Tomatoes - Including where to grow your tomatoes, soil preparation and more

how to grow tomatoes There are a variety of ways to grow tomatoes and several types of tomato to choose from. The best for your garden will depend on the space you have available, type of soil and the local temperature and climate.
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Where to grow your tomatoes.

Tomatoes need a warm spot with plenty of sun and prefer at least 8 hrs of sun a day. If planting outside then planting against a fence or wall can provide extra shelter.

In northern or exposed areas then tomato plants need to be grown under shelter either indoors, in a greenhouse or in a polytunnel or cloche.

Tomatoes thrive at 21-24șC but do not like temperatures below 16șC or above 27șC. Areas susceptible to late frosts are not suitable for growing tomatoes outdoors.
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Soil preparation for growing tomatoes.

Tomatoes like a deep, well drained soil and plenty of organic matter which helps the soil retain moisture. If your soil is wet and heavy then it is better to grow in deep pots or raised beds. Soils heavy in organic matter also warm up quicker which helps the growing process. A good ratio is 3-4 inches of organic matter in the top 6-8 inches of soil.

Tomatoes grow better in a soil with a pH between 5·5 and 7 and you should always add a basic fertilizer before planting. Tomatoes need a high level of phosphorus but a low level of nitrogen so if you are rotating crops from the previous year ensure that the soil is suitable. Adding a small quantity of bone meal and fish blood to the soil before planting gives a good base.
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Grow tomatoes from seed.

Tomatoes can be sown straight into the soil in warm areas in springtime and thinned out to the correct spacing.

In cooler climates it is better to wait until the soil temperature reaches a steady 10șC and there is no risk of frost. Alternatively sow seeds under cover into pots or trays 6 weeks before the end of frosts.

The seedlings should be transplanted into individual 2-3" pots when they have 2-3 leaves and kept in a well ventilated area with plenty of space and light, then hardened off before being transplanted into the garden when flowers appear on the lower trusses. In particularly cold areas then it may be better to keep under cover in a greenhouse or conservatory.
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Transplanting Tomatoes.

Before transplanting tomatoes into their final position a support stake of approx. 4ft should be driven into the soil about 1ft into the soil(if possible) and 2" away from the final planting position. Dig holes about 18" apart and to the depth of the pot, making sure the soil is moist. Carefully take the plant out of the pot, taking care not to disturb the root ball, place into the hole and fill around the plant until the soil is slightly higher than the original. Tie the stem loosely to the stake for support.
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Watering, feeding and caring for tomato plants.

Watering is an important process as if done irregularly it could result in the skin of the tomato splitting. Try to water around the base of the plant, keeping water off the leaves. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering but never allow the soil to become dry. A layer of mulch around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and heat.

Feed every 2-3 weeks with a liquid tomato feed until mid to late August followed by a general fertilizer mid September. Tie in the stem to the support stake as the plant grows, checking earlier ties are not constricting the stem. Weed regularly.
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Harvesting tomatoes.

Harvest the tomatoes as they ripen. This encourages the plant to produce more fruit. If any fruit are still left on the plants in the autumn and there is not much sun available move the plants into a warm, dark spot to ripen - in sunlight the plants will go red but not be ripe so do not place them on a windowsill.
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