When to plant tomato seeds: Why this weekend may be your last chance for summer crops

Squire's Garden Centres share tips for growing tomatoes

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Tomato seeds can be sown indoors in warm conditions as early as February, but if you want to sow them directly outdoors, it is best to wait until the milder weather arrives. Though the forecast has been up and down across the UK in recent weeks, if you’re looking to grow tomato plants outdoors, the time to get them planted is rapidly approaching.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), tomato crops should be planted outdoors from “late March to early April if they’ll be outside”.

However, if you do sow them directly outside, the RHS recommended sowing them in a small pot of compost and covering it with vermiculite.

Not only does vermiculite help to aerate the soil, it also simultaneously retains water and nutrients to release over time.

Ideally, tomato plants should be covered with a heated propagator and kept at around 18C until seedlings begin to sprout.

After a couple of weeks, once they have sprouted, seedlings will need to be moved into individual pots.

Individual pots should be filled with multi-purpose compost and watered well.

At the centre, make a hole in the compost with a dibber or blunt stick.

A dibber is a small stick used specifically for potting compost or transplanting small seeds.

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You can make your own dibber using a pencil, chopstick or old plant labels.

The RHS explained: “Lift each seedling individually, using the dibber to support its rootball and holding it by a leaf rather than the delicate stem, then lower it into the new hole.

“If the seedling is leggy, bury it up to the first pair of leaves, then firm in gently.”

As soon as the first flowers open, your tomato plants are ready to be placed in their final position.

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Make sure to water the plants regularly, keeping the soil or compost evenly moist.

Failure to stick to a specific watering schedule can cause problems with the fruit, such as splitting or blossom end rot.

Plants housed in containers may need watering more often.

The RHS also recommended using a plant feed every 10 to 14 days to boost fruiting.

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