Though there may be a debate about tomatoes being fruit or vegetable, there is no doubt that tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables out there. It is widely used for making sauces, jams and many more. These juicy red fruits are far better when they are produced freshly, even in our backyards.
As a result, garden lovers are interested in producing this widely loved produce. Tomato plants are available at lower prices everywhere so it is not difficult to get your hands on these.
When You Should Plant Tomatoes
Tomatoes demand a high temperature where they can grow beautifully. They are sub-tropical so sunlight is mandatory for them. The ideal season for planting tomatoes is from late spring to summer, though it may vary in some places. Tomatoes can be harvested easily if you understand some key features as many people are able to grow them in gardens.
Which One to Choose
Tomatoes require fertile soil where sunlight is available. At least 8 hours of sunlight is needed for them to grow. On the other hand, the soil needs to be fertile enough to provide sufficient nutrients.
However, the main question that one needs to ask themselves before planting tomatoes is which type they prefer- determinate or indeterminate.
To simplify, one is known as bush (determinate) and another one is cordon (indeterminate). Someone who doesn’t have free space or a backyard can choose bush tomatoes. These can be planted in pots which make them practical for people without space.
On the other hand, cordon tomatoes require extra care as they need a stake and pinching for optimum growth. So, if you’re not dedicated to giving this extra care, choosing cordon tomatoes will pose multiple problems.
Like any other fruits and vegetables, we can plant seeds in order to grow our beautiful tomatoes. Also, tomato plants are readily available which saves a handful amount of time.
However, if you want to sow the seeds, be extra careful. Tomatoes require more space so limit the number of seeds in one pot. Plant them at least 1 inch apart in soil and remember to plant only when the temperature is around 550 F. The germination can be elated in pots by using a cling film.
Though many people use transferring method, it is not suitable for beginners. However, if you have enough knowledge, you can first plant them in a tray and then transfer them outdoor. But don’t use fertilizers that can harm your seedlings such as nitrogen-rich ones. Instead, try to use organic or chemical fertilizers which provide phosphorus.
Watering and Fertilizing
Watering is crucial when it comes to producing tomatoes. The prime time of watering is early morning when the soil should be watered up to 1 inch. The watering cycle should be once every week and deep watering should be done. This helps tomatoes grow properly. Some periods should be avoided for watering such as afternoon.
As it is produced in high temperatures, evaporation can sometimes be excessive. So growers end up watering heavily which can result in split fruit. For this reason, one should check carefully to ensure the plants are getting a fair share of water.
Fertilization should start even before planting the seeds. The soil should be fertilized as one plant can produce hundreds of tomatoes if grown properly. This is the reason why even in a pot we provide moist compost during sowing.
Among organic fertilizers, bonemeal, seaweed feed, fish emulsion can play an important role. The fertilizers should be supplied regularly for healthy growth. Finally, as mentioned before, tomatoes do not require high nitrogen and nitrogen decreases their fruitfulness. So try to avoid this type of fertilizer.
Taking Care of Plants
Tomatoes require a long period of sunlight, so many people arrange for artificial lighting to maintain the plants. The lighting should be adjusted depending on the lifecycle of tomatoes. The optimum period for these lights is from 14-18 hours and they should be near the plants.
If you choose cordon tomatoes, you need to stake your plants. Bamboo canes can be used for this purpose but most people prefer using cages. The height should vary from 5 to 7 feet and this is a must for indeterminate tomatoes.
Another thing that cordon tomatoes demand is pruning. Pruning means eliminating side shoots to maintain nutrients. In addition to this, bottom leaves need to be eliminated. Especially, after reaching 3 feet, the old leaves need to be trimmed as they are more vulnerable to fungus. However, many people end up plucking leaves which can significantly dull the flavor of tomatoes.
Another thing to remember is to keep the plants safe from various diseases such as tomato blight, mosaic virus etc. The quality of tomatoes can worsen due to the lack of nutrients such as calcium; magnesium etc which can result in less sweet fruits and split fruits. So you need to check regularly for these threats.
Harvesting and Storing
Tomatoes should not be left for a long period after ripening. It can deteriorate the taste so you should collect them as soon as they show a bright red color. This also maintains the healthy growth of the plant.
Tomatoes can be stored at low temperatures for long life. However, tomatoes taste the best when they are fresh and storing at low temperature can break down the flavor compounds. Moreover, this may also make them mushy.
Tomatoes are the perfect fruits for anyone to grow as they produce more than any plants out there. Moreover, tomatoes can be used as soon as they turn green and the multiple dishes you can make with these are quite tempting. Even though with tomatoes the effort is a little bit more, at the end of the day the mouth-watering juicy flavor is more rewarding than one can ever imagine.
Even if you’re skeptical about your skills, we can guarantee that your garden tomatoes will be much more delicious than any other store-bought tomatoes. So don’t worry about the taste and start growing some tomatoes!