Tips for growing strawberries and tomatoes in your garden

Strawberries and tomatoes are two of nature's most delicious fruits. Here are some handy tips for growing your own fruits in your garden.

Tips for growing strawberries and tomatoes in your garden

Growing juicy strawberries

Fresh strawberries are hard to beat. They're easy to grow, as long as the soil is well drained and the site is sunny, and also do well in pots and hanging baskets.

Choosing varieties:

  • Single-crop strawberries produce one flush of fruit in summer.
  • Perpetual varieties crop from early to late summer.

Planting:

  • Plant in spring as soon as the earth can be prepared.
  • Position plants 45 centimetres (18 inches) apart.

Routine care:

  • Look out for slugs and snails that can devour your crop and use a layer of straw or a strawberry mat under each plant to keep the berries off the wet ground.
  • Water plants regularly and well.

Propagating new plants:

  • In late summer, strawberries put out shoots, or runners, with new plants growing on them.
  • Choose up to four of the strongest from each plant and use bent wire to peg them into the soil or pots of compost sunk into the bed.
  • When the new plants are firmly rooted, cut them away from the parent plant to use next year.

Growing a great tomato

You don't need a greenhouse to grow flavour-packed tomatoes. The key is to choose a variety well suited to your space and situation.There's a huge range of sizes and colours available, from big red beefsteak tomatoes to yellow cherry ones designed to tumble out of hanging baskets.

You will need:

  • Seeds or plants
  • Compost
  • Seed trays
  • Pots
  • Bamboo canes
  • Soft string or strips of cloth
  • Watering can
  • Tomato food

Start growing:

  • With seeds in trays or small pots kept on a sunny windowsill, if you don't have a greenhouse.
  • Sow seed in mid spring for outdoor varieties and late winter for indoor ones.
  • They will need a temperature of 18°C (64°F) to germinate.

Transplant seedlings:

  •  Move to 7.5 centimetre (three inch) pots as soon as two true leaves have formed, then into permanent positions in the garden or into deep nine to 12 centimetre (3 1/2 to five inch) pots once the first flowers begin to form.

Support growing plants:

  • Support with a bamboo cane pushed in alongside each plant.
  • Tie the stem to the cane with soft string or cloth in several places.

Pinching out:

  • This is essential for indeterminate, or cordon, tomatoes, but not for determinate, or bush, varieties.
  • Remove sideshoots regularly to leave about seven good fruit trusses on indoor plants and four on outdoor ones.
  • Remove the top of the main stem to stop any more growth and concentrate development into the fruits.
  • Water regularly to keep compost moist.
  • Once fruit on the second truss begins to form, feed every seven to 14 days with a store-bought tomato feed.
  • Keep pinching out shoots that grow from the joint between the stem and other shoots.

Now you're ready to grow your own delicious strawberries and tomatoes! Not only do they taste amazing, the bright red colours make your garden look even more beautiful!

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