‘Crucial factor’ to keep tomato plants thriving in a heatwave – will even ‘set more fruit’

Alan Titchmarsh offers tips on watering tomato plants

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A high temperature is a factor that contributes to the failure of tomato crops. Gardening experts at Gardener Know How explained: “It is true that tomatoes generally prefer warm climate to thrive, yet, excessive heat stresses your plant and decreases its production.” Therefore, in order to avoid such problems, gardeners should learn how to grow tomatoes in hot weather properly so they could enjoy a fruitful crop.

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When temperatures surpass 30 degrees, as the UK is currently experiencing, there is a huge risk that tomatoes will not be able to set fruit. 

In short, tomatoes will be damaged, and the crop will be delayed. 

According to the experts, mulching is a “crucial factor” when growing tomatoes in hot weather.

They said: “Mulching is a crucial factor for tomatoes to set fruits and produce heavily especially when they are grown in hot weather. 

“Adding a three inch layer of organic materials would be ideal for your plants.”

A few of the best organic materials to use are cotton hulls, chopped leaves, shredded bark, straw, and grass clippings.

Mulching maintains the soil moist and damp, which is critical in heatwaves.

The experts added: “This is crucial especially when you are growing a delicate vegetable in unfavourable conditions. You may also have to replace the mulch when it breaks down.”

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Tomatoes, even in favourable conditions, need regular watering.

The gardening pros said: “If the weather is too hot, you may need to water your plants twice daily. 

“It is better to do it once in the morning and once in the evening. 

“Keeping your soil moist and damp will prevent fruit cracking.”

In order to avoid overwatering, which may lead to rotten your plants’ roots, the experts advise sticking your finger one inch into the soil to feel how dry it is. 

They added: “If it needs watering, water it, otherwise don’t, no matter how hot it is.”

For extremely hot weather, gardeners cannot plant tomatoes just anywhere. The location should be carefully and precisely picked. 

The gardening experts said: “The best locations are the shady locations. This way, you will protect your plant from burning in the afternoon sun.”

When planting tomatoes, don’t forget that a good quality potting soil is always vital for growing any variety. 

Gardeners who have poor quality soil, consider adding some fertiliser and compost to improve it.

In case gardeners don’t have a shady location in their garden, they could create one. 

The experts suggested: “During hot afternoons, use a wood frame covered with shade cloth to filter sunlight. However, in the morning let them get full sunlight. 

“It is also preferable that you use 50 percent shade cloth because tomatoes need at least 12 hours of sunlight.”

Experienced gardeners advise using a shade structure that opens to the east. This way, plants will enjoy full sunlight in the mornings and will be protected from the hot afternoon rays. 

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