2016 is officially ‘The Year of the Tomato’ as announced by Fleuroselect, the organisation responsible for testing, protecting and promoting new plant varieties.

We’re celebrating with a blog completely dedicated to this popular and versatile fruit.

Tomato trivia

According to the Guinness World Records, the tallest tomato plant ever recorded was grown in Mawdesley, Lancashire and measured a whopping 19.8m (65ft)! And the heaviest tomato was weighed in Ely, Minnesota at 3.814kg (8.41lb).

Every year, the Spanish dedicate a week to ‘La Tomatina’; a famous tomato throwing festival in Buñol, Valencia. 100 tonnes of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets by crowds of up to 20,000 people!

Tons of variety

With over 7,500 varieties of tomato, there’s no excuse not to have a go at growing your own. We have over 15 different varieties available online. Most varieties of tomato can be sown between February and April ready for harvesting between June and October.

For a variety you can grow in hanging baskets, go for tumbling tomatoes. Or pick the sweet million variety if you’re keen on growing sweet, cherry sized tomatoes that kids will love. These are available within Unwins’ Little Growers range; a seed collection designed to encourage little ones to grow their own.

Grow your own

If you fancy having a go at growing your own, follow these simple steps to success:

1) Sow your seeds indoors around 6-8 weeks before planting outside. As a guide, you can transplant your tomato plants outdoors from around early May or when the last frost has passed.

2) Sow your seeds in a seed tray with some potting soil, place in a position where they’ll get plenty of light and keep the soil moist.

3) Once they’ve grown their first set of true leaves, start to feed them once a week with a liquid feed. They should then be moved into larger pots with potting soil once they’re 2-3 inches tall. If there’s more than one seedling in a pot, separate these at the same time.

4) Your plants can be transplanted outdoors once they have started to branch and grown a few inches taller. Tomatoes are best grown in greenhouses but if you’re short on space, a grow bag is also really effective. If growing in a greenhouse, make sure they’re in pots that are around 23cm and keep each pot well spaced to allow room for growth.

5) Keep your plants regularly watered and feed them every 10-14 days for the best results. Enjoy your tomatoes once they’re ripe and fully coloured!

tomatoes in the garden

Tomato chutney recipe

Make the most out of your first crop of tasty tomatoes with this brilliant chutney recipe. Perfect with a Ploughman’s lunch in the sun!

1kg ripe tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 red onions, peeled and chopped
200ml red wine vinegar
175g muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground ginger

1) Add all the ingredients to a pan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
2) Leave to simmer for around 1 ½ hours or until it becomes thick.
3) Spoon into sterilised and sealed jars, leave for a month before eating.
4) Enjoy within 3-4 months!

Find everything for the green-fingered gardener online at Wilko.com

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