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How to grow the tastiest tomatoes

Celebrate the Year of the Tomato with your best crop yet

The scent of a freshly picked, home-grown tomato is something we associate with the height of summer. Yet getting to the point of harvesting perfectly ripe fruit isn’t always plain sailing, first we need to swerve the pitfalls of British weather, split fruit and then, of course, the dreaded blight.

To celebrate the Year of the Tomato and the fact that this month hosts British Tomato Week (16th-22nd May), we look at some of the exciting new varieties available, what to consider when deciding which toms to grow and how to care for your plants over the coming months.

Main image iStock

The first step to success is selecting a variety that is suited to the conditions you’re working with. As tomatoes thrive in warm, sunny situations a greenhouse or polytunnel is ideal, and will suit many of the seeds available to us. Using a greenhouse also offers the advantage of a longer growing season, as crops can be sown and harvested earlier. However, should you wish to grow your plants outdoors a little more consideration will be required. Logically small fruits will ripen faster than large so, given our limited summer sun, cherry varieties such as Gardener’s Delight are a good option for outdoors. But you don’t have to resign yourself to a harvest of miniature fruits alone, as even some beefsteak varieties, such as Super Marmande, will tolerate a summer outside. Take a minute to read the seed or plant details to check whether your selection is suited to indoor or outdoor growing.

A cloche offers ideal growing conditions for tomatoes on a smaller scale
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May is a great month for DIYers and decorators, as the days are now longer and lighter and we get two bank holidays to make the most of too! If you’re planning a spot of redecorating, then you’ll find plenty of exciting colour schemes to inspire you in this issue. Whether you love bold brights or sophisticated neutrals, we’ve got some great looks for you try on page 36, while on page 20 we look back in time to see how to make the season’s hottest retro trends work in your home. And don’t forget your windows when planning your new scheme. Shutters are big news right now, so we’ve put together a buyer’s guide to the latest, most gorgeous designs at affordable prices to help you choose the ones that are right for you (p.40). While you’re at it, check out our fantastic competition to win a set of bespoke shutters from Hillarys (p.43). Early summer is a good time to fit a new bathroom but many of us are put off by the cost. Never fear – we’ve found some real bargain buys that prove you don’t need to take out a second mortgage to get the bathroom of your dreams (p.54). If installing a new kitchen is on your to-do list this year, then you must read our feature on page 46 to discover the latest hi-tech gadgets that can make your life so much easier and give you more time to yourself (and who doesn’t want that eh?) Finally, take a look at our delicious meat-free recipe ideas (p.100 – ideal for quick and healthy family meals, whether you’re a veggie or not. P.S. The noodle dish is utterly scrummy!