Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Concern Over Greenhouse Stabbing

Should you stab your grow-bag before you plant tomatoes or is it better to do nothing? I’ve been grappling with this issue since I saw Gardener’s World presenter, Alys Fowler, first stab hers along the sides a few weeks ago. She was at it again last Friday, this time on the under-side. She maintains she was ‘only following orders’ as the packaging had instructed her to do so.

I wondered if I should do the same, but my Levington’s grow-bag neglects to mention holes, as does my B&Q Organic, Peat Free grow-bag. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has strong views, or any views at all on stabbing grow-bags. Last time I was at a party with a group of horticultural journalists I tried to arrive at some sort of consensus on the matter to no avail. Could it be that the two manufacturers above thought it was so obvious one should stab one’s grow-bag for drainage, they neglected to tell dim gardeners like myself? Meanwhile, as requested, here’s a list of what I’m growing tomato-wise.

Tomatoes in The Greenhouse

Costoluto Fiorentino

A beef tomato grown as a cordon. I grew up with tomatoes like this. To me these taste of the Mediterranean.


This is a large cherry tomato which you grow as a bush — no need to take any stalks off, just let it grow and do its own thing.


This cordon variety is a strong grower, suitable for heated and unheated greenhouses, it’s an early variety if you want to get a head start.

San Marzano

This is a plum tomato used for cooking – a vigorous, sturdy plant. Making your own passata is not very difficult and tastes sensational thrown over fresh pasta.


A sweet, orange-coloured cherry tomato — once eaten, never forgotten. A lot of people say this is their favourite tomato of all time — one of those that barely makes it to the plate, they are so good to scoff from the vine.


A trouble free cordon variety. I grow it for sentimental reasons — I used to live in a village called San Juan, a few miles from Alicante.


This is my credit-crunch choice. I got the seeds free with a copy of Kitchen Garden magazine. They have attractive stripes, though not everyone is convinced about taste.

Gardener’s Delight

This is the first tomato I ever grew. Gardener’s Delight may be bog standard, but it’s still a great salad tomato when you grow it yourself.


Italian variety of round tomato with a good tomato-ey taste!


This variety came out with flying colours in a recent ‘Which’ report. It has very long trusses of small, sweet cherry tomatoes and can be grown in the greenhouse or outdoors. Also came free with a magazine!

In the spirit of experimentation I am growing some tomatoes in large pots. Others are in grow-bags using rings with an outer and inner section for watering and feeding. In another grow-bag I have cut off the bottom of tomato pots and fitted them to the top of the bag.
All we need now is for the good weather to last.

  • All I need now is to be invited round for a tomato tasting…. xx

  • I was wondering about this as well but after I had planted my tomatos so it was all abit late. I’m sure I didnt puncture holes last year. I am using gropots in the greenhouse on top of the growbags. They were great last year as you add lots of water when you first plant out and then dont water for a couple of weeks – this encourages the plants to put roots down into the growbag. Then you fill up the reserve tank each day and the water seeps in as it is needed. I assumed that puncturing holes would defeat this but after seeing GW I looked at the instructions on the gropot again and it mentioned the holes – never mind.

    I am growing 4 varieties this year:
    Czech’s Excellent Yellow (a recommendation from Tyra in Sweden)
    San Marzano
    Gartenperle (or some name like that – they were free)

    I have some inside and outside the greenhouse to compare results.

  • I try to remember to pierce the bottom of the bag a few times when I grow tomatoes, but whenever I forget, which is most years, it doesn’t have a negative impact on plant growth. I’m growing ‘Super Marmande’, ‘Black Cherry’ and ‘Black Russian’ in a bag, with a few ‘Green Sausages’ in 15 litre pots.