How to grow your own tomatoes

how to grow tomatoes

If you are thinking of growing your own tomatoes, I can tell you that it’s going to be very worthwhile. They are so much tastier than the bought supermarket varieties. I grew my first tomatoes when we started making over our garden. We had no greenhouse or vegetable beds back then. I decided to grow them in pots and in a big trough that my husband made. They did well.

tomato grown in trough

tomato plant grown in trough

If, like me, you live in the UK or somewhere in the North of the planet, you might be wondering if growing tomatoes outside is even an option. Tomatoes need light and warmth to ripen, so if you’re going to grow them outside, pick a warm sheltered spot in your garden that gets a lot of light.

I found that growing them in pots had a great advantage, as I could move them around. So if the sun was scorching, I moved them to a shadier place. We had a very hot and dry summer two years ago which produced lovely tomatoes. But it also meant a lot of watering and sometimes moving them to shade.

growing tomato plant

Give it a try, gardening is mainly just trying things out. Some things will work out and some won’t, but you can learn along the way. And when something is succesful, the satisfaction you feel from growing your own makes it all worthwhile. Hopefully this article will inspire you and guide you along the way.

First of all, a bit of background.

Types of tomato plants

Apart from different varieties, tomatoes also have different growth habits. The main three are

  • Indeterminate or cordon varieties
  • Determinate or bush tomatoes
  • Dwarf varieties

Indeterminate or cordon varieties

Most people will probably grow these kind of upright tomatoes. They consist of a single tall stem and side shoots. Usually they are grown up twine or canes for support. You need to remove some of the side shoots, or ‘suckers’, so that the plant doesn’t get congested and produces the optimum amount of fruit. You can easily do that by ‘pinching out’ the suckers and removing any excess foliage when required.

Varieties of indeterminate tomatoes I’ve grown include ‘Moneymaker’, ‘Sweet Million’, ‘Alicante’ and ‘Gardener’s Delight’. These are simple to grow and have given me bumper crops. I have succesfully grown them outdoors in large containers. They do need support and I used bamboo canes for that.

tomato crop

My first crop

Determinate or Bush tomatoes

As the name suggests, these don’t grow a single upright stem but have a low growing, bushy habit, which makes them ideal for containers. ‘Tiny Tim’ is a well known bush variety and is ideal for containers or even hanging baskets. Other bush varieties are ‘Losetto’, ‘Amateur’ and ‘Red Alert’.  They have a low growing habit and you don’t need to remove any side shoots. Very easy to grow for beginners.

Dwarf Varieties

These are very low growing tomatoes, ideal for containers and hanging baskets. I haven’t grown any of these myself, so I’m not able to advise you, but if I try them in future, I’ll keep you updated.

Where should you grow your tomatoes

If you live in cooler parts of the world, it’s best to grow them in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Sunlight and warmth are both required for succesful crops. Tomatoes are also very hungry plants and need regular feeding. Plant them in rich soil, if possible add well rotted manure to the bed before planting. Otherwise keep watering with diluted tomato or seaweed feed, especially if grown in pots or containers.

Should you grow from seed?

This year I bought my tomato plants from a nursery when they were small plants. But if you want to grow them from seed, start seeding them in mid February or March using a heated propagator or place on a warm window sill. I have had a lot of success in the past with a simple container with a transparent plastic cover that I placed on a south facing window sill that has a radiator underneath, and seeds germinate very quickly there.


Once your seedlings are growing, you can transplant them to bigger pots. Don’t be tempted to put them outside until all danger of frost has passed. This usually means end of May, beginning of June here in the UK. It’s also a good idea to ‘harden them off’. That means you take them outside for short periods of time to get them used to the outside temperatures.

If your seedlings have become a little long and ‘leggy’, you can help them by planting them deeper into a pot. They will grow roots along the stem that is buried in the soil and make the plant sturdier.

tomato plant

The only other thing to remember is to water regularly. If watering is irregular, this can result in split tomatoes and puts the plant under stress.

I hope you are now encouraged to grow your own tomatoes, they are a great choice if you want to start growing your own vegetables.

Have I inspired you to grow your own tomatoes? Are you already growing them? I would love to hear how you grow your tomatoes in your garden and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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