Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Yes, actually, tomatoes are both. Tomatoes are the wonders of the vegetable world, though technically a fruit, we enjoy them in stews, raw, on pizzas, and in our breakfasts – there really is no end to the talents of the humble tomato.

Though ubiquitous in gardens up and down the land, tomatoes can be a little tricky to grow at home. With this in mind, we’ve put together a top guide to growing your own toms both in and out of the greenhouse.

Varieties
There are tons of varieties of tomatoes out there with an unexpectedly large variety of colours too. There are tall plants, cordon plants, and teeny tiny mini toms too. Not to mention the yellow ones, the purple ones and the tumbling variety as well. For solid growing, blight resistant varieties, we like Gardener’s Delight – aptly named for ease of growing, a lovely little cherry tomato. If you’re thinking of growing your toms in a hanging basket, go for the brilliantly named Tumbling Tom. For the regular tomato we all have in our fridges, opt for Ferline as your variety of choice.

In a greenhouse
The best place to grow heat-loving tomatoes is in the greenhouse. As tomatoes originally come from South America they do like warmer growing conditions that mimic those found in their place of origin. The ideal temperature is 21-24 degrees Celsius.

Sow your seed inside from March and keep your seedlings in a sunny position. Once it’s time to plant out, toms planted in a greenhouse border will need fresh compost and soil to protect them from pests whereas toms grown in grow bags will need a lot more water and food. Toms need a decent amount of space to grow well – keep at least 50cm between each plant and plant no more than two plants per grow bag.


Without a greenhouse
It is still possible to grow toms without a greenhouse – fear not!

Firstly, make sure you have a very sunny spot in your garden picked out for your tomatoes then get growing from seed or start gently with shop-bought plants.

Sow your seed inside from March and keep your seedlings in a sunny position. Once the weather has warmed up sufficiently – allegedly possible from June onwards but at time of writing, it is seriously winter-like here at the end of June… Once you plant out, give them a good bit of space – about 60cm apart, and make sure they have access to plenty of sunlight.

Feeding
There are plenty of tomato feeds out there on the market but one of the cheapest and best options for your new tomato plants is a simple comfrey feed. Ideally grow your own comfrey then harvest the leaves and seep in water to create a comfrey ‘tea’. Then, after you’ve sieved it, use it on the days that you water your plants – simple!

Remember, the key to healthy red toms is plenty of watering and plenty of feeding.

Ripening
Herein lies the problem with outdoor toms. Tomatoes can be difficult to get to ripen without a greenhouse – especially if you live in the north where the climate is that little bit cooler. If you’re really struggling, one fabulous tip is to stash a bunch of very ripe bananas with your green toms in an enclosed space in order to speed up the process. Warmth rather than sunlight is the key to ripe toms.

If all else fails, harvest your green toms and use them to make fabulous green tomato chutney – delicious!

Whether you’re growing in a hanging basket, on your balcony, in a container garden, in a green house or a veg patch, tomato growing is tons of fun.

Why not try out your own toms by picking up a few plants this weekend – go on, give it a go!