If you do not have a greenhouse or a small greenhouse that doesn’t have enough room for the number of plants you would like to grow, a mini-greenhouse / tomato grow-house could be the solution for you.
They are cheap to buy (around £20) although they won’t last as long as a proper greenhouse. By dismantling and storing carefully away for the winter you can get 5 years life from the cover but 3 is more likely. Replacement covers are available for around £10
They can be placed anywhere but ideally you should site them in a sheltered, sunny spot. The model I like comes with removable mesh shelves. These are great to use as a coldframe early-season.
Even when you first plant your tomatoes, you can leave the top shelf in and continue to use it to bring on other plants, such as strawberries or salad leaves.
Once the summer has arrived and the night time temperatures are above 12ºC you can set up your grow-house and plant out your tomatoes.
The size is just right for one large grow bag in the base. Since a grow bag doesn’t contain much compost (around 40L) insert bottomless pots into the bag to hold the plants in additional compost. See Growing Tomatoes in Grow Bags
Initially you will need to ensure the front is closed at night and if the weather turns cold but later in the season you can just leave it open as it will provide shelter and extra warmth without over-heating. See Ideal Temperatures for Growing Tomatoes
Varieties of Tomatoes to Grow in a Grow-House
You want to grow cordon (pole) varieties. There isn’t room for bush tomatoes. Since temperatures are likely to be lower and more variable than in a proper greenhouse, go for outdoor varieties. The seed supplier will usually say if a variety is suitable for outdoor growing or needs a greenhouse to realistically crop.
As the cordons grow, support on strings or canes and remove the top shelf to allow them space to grow. Side-shoot and stop as for any cordon but remember to stop earlier than you would for a greenhouse tomato as the growing season is shorter for these. See Side-shoot removal & stopping tomatoes
We grow a mass of marigolds at the base of the tomatoes to deter whitefly but also because they look pretty and brighten up the garden.
Further Information: Tomato Growing Guides
- Types of Tomatoes – An Introduction to Tomato Growing Part 1
- Sowing and Starting off Tomatoes – Introduction to Tomato Growing Part 2
- Growing Tomatoes in a Tomato Grow-house (Mini-Greenhouse)
- Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse
- Growing Tomatoes in the Greenhouse Border
- Growing Tomatoes in Pots or Grow Bags in the Greenhouse
- Growing Tomatoes by Ring Culture
- Growing Tomatoes in Straw Bales
- Growing Tomatoes Outdoors
- Planting & Growing Tomatoes Outdoors
- Growing Patio Tomatoes – Dwarf Bush Variety Patio Tomatoes
- Water Requirements for Tomatoes
- Ideal Temperatures for Growing Tomatoes
- Removing Tomato Side Shoots (Suckers) & Stopping Tomatoes
- Best Tomato Varieties – My Top Tasty Tomato Picks
- Heirloom Tomatoes (Heritage Tomatoes)
- Best Tomatoes for Greenhouse Growing
- Tomato Troubles & Diseases | Causes & Cures of Tomato Problems
- Raising Tomato Plants from Seed