SLIGHTLY disappointed last year after re-visiting growbags for my toms for the first time in years, I decided on ring culture this year.

It coincided with seeing one of those cheffy shows on TV focusing on the practice in an enormous nursery, which is experimenting with using a ring culture solid medium as opposed to the hydroponics which still, in my humble view, do not produce the same flavour results.

Last year, despite regular feeding, the growing bags seemed to run out of steam later in the season.

I built my replacement greenhouse a couple of summers ago on a concrete base, thus replicating my usual soil culture in the old ‘house impossible. Ring culture had been recommended as a solution by a number of readers and we will see if it works in producing better results.

Ring culture involves using pots and bags to increase the depth of the growing medium which, in a growbag alone, soon becomes clogged by the extensive tomato root structure.

Ring culture involves using three litre pots, cutting holes in the growing bag to accommodate them after cutting out the bases of the pots.

Tin snips are good for this, but strong scissors will probably do the job as pots these days are much thinner and more easily modified than older generations of poly pots.

To keep the pot’s rigid structure, leave an inch or so of the base intact, otherwise you will be left with a floppy pot. It is important when preparing the growbag to loosen the medium inside with a trowel because it will have become severely compacted during storage and delivery.

Then, dig around with your fingers in an inch of the compost making a small pyramid of the medium and slip the pot in. Fill the pot with compost and pop in your chosen plant.

I used a multi-purpose compost, fortified with well-rotted horse manure and slow release blood, fish and bone which should give all that a plant needs, together with a liquid fertiliser each week after fruit has set.

I’ll let you know if it works...

* My thanks to Eddie Grove, from Wootton, who gifted me a tray of Stan Jackson’s hybrid Queen of Hearts tomatoes which went out on my roadside stall, to raise funds for the Send a Cow charity.

* It was also good to hear from a keen gardener who shares a name with my favourite tom.

She emailed: “I was so surprised to see my name, Rosella, in print as a tomato. I’ve never seen them so will have to look for the variety. I did see a fuchsia of that name but it’s not a common name, so it’s something to see it in print. It is also a name of a bird from Australia, which I’ve had to learn to live with.”

Cheers, Rosella Hayter...