I’m not sure if I grow tomatoes in the same way as other people. My desire (usually) is to grow as many different varieties as I can fit into the available space and, because of the weather in the UK, this usually means growing them in the polytunnel or greenhouse. This year however, I think productivity is at least as important as the number of varieties so I’ve decided that I will aim to fill the greenhouses with tomatoes and also grow some outside hoping that the weather will be kind.
What you see above are two trays of 7cm pots, each of which were sown with five seeds. The trays conveniently take 15 pots so in an ideal world with perfect germination I would have 30 pots of five plants. Now of course the world isn’t perfect and four cultivars had no germination (possibly not warm enough) and some have fewer than five plants (in fact some have only one). I have sown some more to try and make up for the lack of plants but they will be running behind.
At the moment, because of the cold evenings, the trays are ported into the greenhouse in the morning and then back into the utility room for overnight.
When the plants are a little larger I will stop watering them for a couple of days so that the compost dries out a bit and then pot the plants up into individual 7cm pots to let them grow on. Some (probably 60 plants, four trays) will continue to be ported in and out and others will be left permanently in the greenhouse, trusting to luck that they survive any cold nights. Some of the plants would normally be culled at this point because I only have space in the greenhouse for 40 or so plants.
When they fill the 7cm pots, they will get transferred into 9cm pots. At that point I can only get eight pots in a tray and the plants will be 9-12 inches tall making it much more difficult to transport them to and from the greenhouse so I will leave even more outside permanently. Again, some will be culled, except this year I might try to keep the maximum number of plants to increase the crop of tomatoes.
Hopefully, by the start of June the frosts will be over and I’ll be able to plant them into their final growing pots or in the ground.
Below the tomatoes are my plugs of lettuces which I sowed at the end of March. They don’t get the luxury of being carried in and out but they’ll get potted up to 7cm pots in much the same way as the tomatoes to give us the volume of lettuces that we seem to eat through the summer.