Monty Don on how to ‘maximise quantity’ of tomatoes – ‘Several things’ gardeners should do

Gardener's World tips: Why your outdoor tomatoes haven't ripened

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Tomato plant seeds can be sown from February to April, with the seedlings planted out from May to June. Now is the ideal time for gardeners to sow seeds just in time for a later harvest, or to think about planting the seedlings out. Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don has explained how gardeners can grow the “perfect tomato crop”, and “maximise the quantity of fruit” for a bumper harvest this year. 


Tomatoes start appearing in July and can grow right until October. 

They are easy to grow and taste best when grown in full sun. 

To grow tomatoes successfully, rich fertile soil or peat-free potting compost is needed, alongside a good sunny, sheltered spot. 

Monty said: “All your attention should be on maximising the quantity and quality of the fruit. 

“There are several things you want to do; first of all, remove any leaves that are obscuring ripening the fruit. 

“You want air and ventilation – and the plant will be fine, as long as it’s got some foliage it will be perfectly okay. 

“Second thing is to make sure you take out all and any side shoots, and these are of course the shoots that grow between the stem and a leaf. 

“If you can’t pull it off, use a knife, because there’s a risk of tearing, and cut it off so you don’t damage the plant.” 

He added: “And then, check it to make sure that everything is nice and secure.

“This one here is bending down, if I didn’t tie that in, that could grow up and potentially fall and break and we’d lose fruit. 

“Go around and tie them up, so they’re supported,” Monty advised. 

“Give the plants a good soak, leave the doors wide open, so they don’t get too hot.”

The presenter also said “it’s a good idea to feed” tomato plants. 

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“A basic tomato feed – we’re looking to feed the fruit, and not the plant so much, we don’t want a bigger plant, we want more flowers and fruit,” Monty commented. 

“Now comfrey feed is great, but something I do quite often and I don’t even make it into a feed, you pick leaves and you simply place them around the base of the plant as a leafy mulch. 

“That does two things; it suppresses weeds and keeps the moisture in, and also very quickly breaks down and feeds potassium into the roots and that goes into developing really good fruits. 

“And finally, and perhaps most importantly, pick all ripe tomatoes, eat them if you can, and if you can’t give them to someone who will enjoy them.”

Tomatoes are split into two main growing types: determinate (bush) and indeterminate (cordon). 

Bush types are usually planted in pots or hanging baskets and their stems trail around the edge. 

Cordon types are trained to grow tall and are supported by a cane or stake.

Stakes are needed to support cordon type tomatoes – bush tomato varieties do not need a stake. 

Bush tomatoes are great for beginner gardeners. 

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