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Growing Tomatoes in a Tomato Grow-house (Mini-Greenhouse)

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.

Mini Greenhouse Tomato Grow House

Mini Greenhouse Tomato Grow House – Available wilko.com

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.

Tomato Grow House

Here you can see the young plants sitting in the pots, which gives them far more compost to take nutrients up from. As it is early in the season, the top shelves are in place and being utilised for various tender seedlings
Later, these will be removed and the plants will be tied to the crossbars which are part of the grow house structure.

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.

Tomato Grow House

Here we are in early August and the plants have filled the shelter and been stopped. The pots are hidden under the mass of marigolds which keep whitefly at bay and make for a more attractive item in the garden.
In front our emergency lettuce in a trough (useful when I forget my allotment shopping order) and our cat, Aphy, is watching a butterfly off-shot with great interest.
Unfortunately, we had just picked the ripe tomatoes before taking this photograph but you can see the green ones on the plant

Cultivation

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