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Tomato Growing in temperate climates
Jason.R

1

Contents
1..Location...........................................................................................................3
2..Tomato seed....................................................................................................4
3..Temperate vs subtropical climates..................................................................5
4..Growing Structure...........................................................................................6
5..Support............................................................................................................8
6..Watering..........................................................................................................8
7..Feeding............................................................................................................9
8..Pruning............................................................................................................9
9..Weeding........................................................................................................10
10..Pests and diseases......................................................................................10
11..Crop Rotation..............................................................................................11
12..Companion Planting....................................................................................13
..14 Recipes.......................................................................................................14
..14.1 Tomato, Lime and Chilli Chutney........................................................14
..14.2 Simple Tomato Salad..........................................................................14

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1 Location.
I have been growing tomato plants along with other vegetables for
a number of years and my location has posed some problems that
require a bit more thought and planning to overcome. Living in a
temperate climate means that there is a shorter growing season,
but longer daylight hours. This text will give some guidance to the
growing of tomato plants in a cooler climate.

Cooler temperatures

even with the longer days means that fruit takes longer to develop
and ripen. To aid with this there are some things that help. Where
the plants are grown, how to feed and water them, pruning and
dealing with pests and disease will all be covered.

Some of the

advice covered here is equally applicable to growing in the more
sub tropical zones. It is to be noted that I reside in the southern
hemisphere therefore the sunlight is coming from the north and I
may refer to that. Where ever you live aim to have all day sun.

There are many different varieties of tomato plants, of which some
will perform better than others in differing climates and locations. It
is best to try more than one variety in any growing season so that
the chances of a great harvest increase.

It also means that in

following years plant selection will become easier as you will be
able to choose those varieties that grow well in your particular
location.

3

2 Tomato seed.
When buying seed or seedlings there is a choice between heirloom
and hybrid varieties.

Heirloom varieties have been breed over

many generations, and the greatest benefit is that their seeds may
be saved to be planted in following seasons, knowing that the new
plants will be true to type. The biggest disadvantage is that they
may be more susceptible to disease, take longer to grow and may
have a slightly smaller harvest. With hybrids the advantages are
that they quicker to produce, improved disease resistance and
better looking and uniform fruit. The disadvantage is that while you
may save the seed, if it grows, it will revert back to one of it's
parent types so you don't know just what plant varieties you will
get. The choice is yours and most gardeners will try both to see
what works for them.
Types that I have had some success with include 'money maker'
'beefsteak' and for the smaller cherry sized tomatoes, 'sweet 100's'.
There have also been a small selection of heirloom varieties that I
have tried such as the black cherry tomatoes and and the yellow
brandywine and I have been able to save seed from these for
sowing in successive years. They do not always work but it is worth
persevering with and it is great to have a food on your table that
cannot be bought from the local store and they are always a
conversation piece for friends and family.

4

3 Temperate vs subtropical climates.
The biggest difference in growing tomatoes in a temperate climate
vs growing them in a sub tropical climate is the need to use green
houses or something similar to shield the plants from the worst of
the weather. Tomato plants are tender and frost bites them hard.
By necessity to get the best out of the plants growers in a
temperate climate are forced to grow their plants indoors. This not
only keeps them away from the frosts and extends the growing
season but it also offers some extra warmth. This is not to say that
you cannot grow them outside, just that the plant performance will
be noticeably different. If tomatoes are to be grown outside then
sites that are sheltered and garner all day sun are vital. Growing
against a south facing wall is ideal as this also gives the opportunity
to support the plant. It must be remembered that when there are
frosts, ensure that the plants are covered to protect them all you
will find that the leaves turn black and the plant will die. Another
option to ensure rapid ripening is to grow smaller varieties.

Any

sort of cherry tomato are good as they ripen easily due to the small
size of the fruit.
There is also the need to start seedlings indoors to lengthen the
season as if you wait until the cool weather has past the wont be
enough time for the plants to fully mature and produce ample fruit
before the good weather has passed. By starting the seedlings in
this way you can add up to six weeks, which is a big head start in
the lower latitudes.

5

4 Growing Structure.

Glass house / Green house / Polytunnel. They come in all shapes
and sizes and all manner of expense. To provide shelter from winds
and frost, as well as increase the temperature by a degree or two,
plants grown inside out preform plants grown outside, both in the
size of the plant and also the yield.

There are many benefits to

owning a glass house/green house or a polytunnel. Being able to
extend the growing season and allowing a broader range of plants
to be grown are just some the benefits associated with them. Cost
can influence which type of growing house that one would select.
The traditional glass house, made up from many panes on glass
looks, at least to my mind, the best but because of the amount of
6

glass used is also the most expensive. The polytunnel on the other
hand it a lot cheaper to purchase, and to repair if it gets damaged.
They may not look as nice but they work just as well as the glass
house. For the sake of clarity I will just refer to them as a
greenhouse.
The location of the greenhouse is also critical, as even if they are a
few degrees warmer than the ambient outside air the plants still
require sunlight. Again if you a installing one, a location with all day
sun really is a must. Consider things like shade from wall and other
plants as the sun moves when looking where to place it.
It is a good idea before planting for the next season to wash the
outside of the greenhouse so as to remove any grime and dirt. It is
amazing how much light can be gained from such a simple job.
Doing it once a year means that it is not a great chore and you can
tie it in to other greenhouse work such as replacing the soil or
install supports for the plants. It is also the ideal time to install or to
check over an irrigation system. These do make the watering less
of a chore in the hight of summer.

7

5 Support.
Some varieties need help to support their weight as they can grow
tall and when laden with fruit they may fall. Usually this requires a
rod close to the stem so that the plant may be tied on. If grown
inside a green house/glass house sometimes a wire is strung from
the ceiling towards the base of the plant to allow for some support.
If the room allows there are some growers that use a cage to
surround the plant to provide it's support. Other varieties can be
allowed to ramble along the ground and perform just fine.

6 Watering.
Tomato plants do need a lot of water to help to swell the fruit, and
they are best watered by the roots so as to prevent or stop the
spread of disease.

Tomato plants are not the hardiest and are

prone to pests or disease. Because of this overhead watering is not
recommended so you are limited to giving the roots a good soaking.
There is also some success to be had by forming a trench between
plants and allowing water to run between the plants. Dip irrigation
is also successful at keeping them well watered while lowering the
risk of disease. It also has the benefit of limiting the use of water
which for those who are having to pay for the use of water through
water meters can make a significant saving.
It also helps to water tomato plants by only watering them once
every five to seven days. This regular but infrequent watering helps
to prevent the fruits from developing splits. I also tend to water the
plants with water from a butt, allowing the water temperature to be
closer to that of the ambient temperature rather that water straight
8

from a tap where the water can be a lot colder. I do not know if this
is in any way beneficial to the plants, it is just something that I have
always done as I have a water butt handy.

I also must be

mentioned that like all vegetables, tomato plants like a pourous
free draining soil. You do not want them in soil that is waterlogged
as their roots may start to rot.

7 Feeding.
Prior to planting is is a good idea to add some compost to the soil.
To produce large fruit tomato plants need regular feeding so I find
that I have had success with giving them a liquid fertilizer once a
fortnight and bringing it closer to once a week during the hight of
the growing season. I usually use a seaweed fertilizer as these are
easily found at the local garden center and are not that expensive.
One bottle can go a long way.

8 Pruning.
Pruning is usually limited to the removal to lateral on the plant but
there can be other ways of pruning that growers can try. Nearing
the end of the season some gardeners will top the plant so that it
can concentrate it's energy into forming and riping it's fruit. It also
helps during the growing season when the fruit have developed to
full size to remove the leaves from around them so as the sun may
get to them and allow ripening. It can also be of some benefit to
prune the roots at the end of the growing season.

By running a

blade in a circle about 50mm away from the stem it can force the
plant into ripening any remaining fruit quicker that the plant may
have done otherwise. Be careful as if the roots are cut too close to
9


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