Greenhouse Growing: Tomatoes
Growing tomato plants from seed in a greenhouse can be a rewarding and efficient way to produce a bounty of fresh, flavourful tomatoes. With proper care and attention, your tomato plants will no doubt thrive and produce a bumper crop of those firm favourite, red fruits.
Carry on reading for our full guide to growing tomato plants at home, from the most popular varieties to choose from to our step-by-step guide on growing and nurturing your new saplings.
Popular Homegrown Tomato Varieties
There are many different varieties of tomato plants that can be grown from seed, each with its own unique characteristics and flavour profile. Here are some of the most popular tomato plant varieties that are well-suited for growing from seed:
Probably one of the most well known varieties, these small, round tomatoes are sweet and juicy, and are perfect for snacking or adding to salads. Some popular cherry tomato varieties in the UK include gardeners delight, cherry baby, and sun gold.
These tomatoes are open-pollinated and passed down through generations, and are known for their unique flavours and colorful appearances. Some popular heirloom tomato varieties to grow in the UK include crimson crush, brandywine, and for a more unusual dusky rose tomato; the cherokee purple.
These large, meaty tomatoes are perfect for slicing up into thin rounds to use in sandwiches or to top burgers. Some popular beefsteak tomato varieties in the UK include big daddy (naturally), supersteak and the tomande F1 variant.
Roma & Plum Tomatoes
These small, oblong tomatoes have a dense, meaty texture and are perfect for sauces, salsas, and canning. Some popular roma and plum tomato varieties include roma VF, riesling F1 and the classic Italian principe borghese.
No matter which variety you choose, be sure to follow good growing practices to ensure a healthy, productive tomato plant.
Step-by-Step Guide to Optimal Tomato Growing
Here's our step-by-step guide to help you get started growing tomatoes at home in the greenhouse:
- Start with good quality seed: Begin by purchasing high-quality tomato seeds from a reputable source. Make sure the seeds are fresh and viable, as older seeds may not germinate as well. It's also a bonus if you can find organic seeds!
- Choose the right container: Use pots, trays, or cell packs with good drainage to start your seeds. Fill the containers with a seed-starting mix or a soilless mix, such as peat moss or coir.
- Plant the seeds: Sow the seeds according to the package instructions, usually by placing them on the surface of the soil and lightly covering them with the mix. Water the seeds gently, being careful not to wash them away or dislodge them.
- Provide proper lighting and temperature: Tomatoes need plenty of light to germinate and grow, so place the containers in a sunny spot or under grow lights. Keep the temperature around 21-24°C during the day and slightly cooler at night.
- Water and fertilize regularly: Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy, watering as needed. Fertilise the seedlings with a balanced liquid fertiliser every two weeks, or weekly during the main fruiting period.
- Hardening off and transplanting: When the seedlings are about 4-6 inches tall and have several sets of true leaves, it's time to harden them off. This process involves gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions over the course of a week or two. When the seedlings are ready, transplant them into the greenhouse or into the garden, being sure to space them appropriately and provide support as needed.
- Monitor and care for the plants: In the greenhouse, monitor the temperature and humidity, as well as the soil moisture and nutrient levels. Water and fertilise as needed, and prune or stake the plants as they grow. Be on the lookout for pests and diseases, and take appropriate action if necessary.
- Once fully grown, or grown to the size and ripeness that you prefer, simply pick and enjoy your grow your own tomatoes!