Tomato


 

Common name: Love Apple


The cultivated tomato belongs to the genus lycopersicon, and it is believed to have originated in the mountainous regions of the Andes.

European explorers brought the tomato back to Europe during the 16th century.

Tomatoes are half-hardy and generally need some protection such as a greenhouse or plastic tunnel in the UK.

apt shaped 'Love Apple'

Having said that that they can be grown outdoors, in containers or the open ground if planted close to a south-facing wall / fence.

Due to much hybridisation Tomato varieties now come in various sizes,shapes and colours.


Black
Bi-coloured
Red
Yellow

Cherry
Plum
Large
Size Range

Apart from location tomato culture for in/outdoor cultivars is similar, although some varieties are better suited than others to growing outdoors.


Outdoor Cultivation:


Week 10:


Sow outdoor varieties thinly onto the surface of well-drained seed compost, lightly cover, place in a propagator, and germinate at a temperature of 21°C (70°F).

Germination may take up to 7 days.

Germinated Seedlings

Week 12:


Prick out at the seed leaf stage into individual 70mm (3”) pots of potting compost.

Grow on at a temperature of 15°-18°C (60°-65°F)

Ensure plants do not become pot bound, and pot on as necessary until planting out time.

Seeds started between now or early April will give young plants ready for planting out during late May, early June.


Method:


Form hole in Compost
Alternative method
Hole Formrd
Seedlings

Extract seedling
Rooted Seedling
Place seedling in hole
In hole

Tap pot to settle in compost
Water Pot
Labelled
Trayful ready for growing on

Place on hotbed for a few days
Growing On
Growing On
Ready for planting out.

Week 23:


Once the risk of frost has passed, plant out cordon varieties, 400mm (16”) apart and bush varieties 900mm (36”) apart in rich deeply dug soil, in a warm, sunny, sheltered position.

Alternatively, plant out in containers of John Innes No3 potting compost (or equivalent) and grow on in a similar location.


Provide a 1200mm (48”) stake to cordon varieties and 900mm (36”) for bush varieties.

Loosely tie in the stem to the stake with soft string or twist ties.


Growing On


Ensure that plants do not go short of water during the growing season.

Apply regular doses of a proprietary liquid tomato feed, to manufacturer’s recommendations after fruit sets.


Week 33:


If not already done, tall outdoor tomato varieties will probably need to be stopped to encourage the crop to ripen before the end of the growing season.

Remove the growing tip at one or two leaves above the third / fourth truss.

Container-grown outdoor tomatoes require regular watering and feeding, but those in the open ground may only require a weekly soaking.

Apply about 10 litres (2 gall) per plant and omit the fertiliser.


Week 40:


To speed up the ripening process of outdoor tomatoes remove the leaves and lay the stems down on white plastic sheeting, or a layer of clean straw, then cover with cloches.

Alternatively, the fruits will slowly ripen if the stems are stripped of leaves before pulling them up and hanging them by the roots in a dry shed or greenhouse.

When frost threatens to ruin the last green fruits, remove them and individually wrap them in tissue paper and ripen them off in a drawer or cupboard indoors.


Cultivation under glass:


Week 10:


Sow greenhouse varieties thinly onto the surface of well-drained compost, lightly cover, place in a propagator, and germinate at a temperature of 21°C (70°F).

Germination may take up to 7 days.

Germinated Seedlings

Week 12:


Prick out at seed leaf stage into individual 70mm (3”) pots of potting compost. (as shown above in 'Outdoor Cultivation')

Grow on at a temperature of 15°-18°C (60°-65°F)

Ensure plants do not become pot bound, and pot on as necessary until planting out time.


Week 17:


Prepare beds in greenhouse.

Before Preparation
After Preparation

Week 19-21:


Plant out 400mm (16”) apart in a cool greenhouse this month.


Avoid planting out in the same bed as last year, if this proves impractical, remove the soil at least 300mm (1ft) deep from the bed and replace with new.

Planted Out
Growing On

Alternatively, grow them in Growbags allow two plants to each small growbag or three to a standard bag.

  • Prior to placing the growbags, cover the soil with a layer plastic sheeting to prevent contamination.

  • Cut slits in the plastic for drainage.

Another alternative is to use Growing rings (Ring culture)

Lay plastic sheeting as described above and cover it with gravel or well rotted manure or compost.

This acts as a moisture reservoir as the roots extend out of the bottomless rings.

Position 225mm (9”) diameter rings filled with JI No2 compost (or equivalent) 400mm (16”) apart on to the gravel/compost.

Insert canes into the rings and tie them in to overhead roof wires, these wil be used to tie in the plant stems as the plants grow.

*This system is a useful method for greenhouses with paved floors.


Part filled Rings
Manure in Bottom of Ring
Ring topped up with Compost
Compost Topping

Planted Out
Growing On
Growing On
Growing On


Week 25>:


If growing 'cordon' plants remove side growths from leaf axils.


If growing 'bush' varieties this practice is not absolutely necessary although some growers remove a few to keep the plant/s tidy.

Similarly they may do this if they are growing the fruit for quality and or size, rather than quantity.

Side Shoot
Side Shoot Removed

Flower pre-pollination
Flower set (pollinated)
Truss growing on
Truss Ripening

Once the flowers have 'set' (pic 2) always ensure the plants have a uniform supply of water and fertiliser.


Week 26:



Week 27>


Depending upon variety harvest fruit as it ripens.


Week 36>


If not already done, nip out the growing tip of each plant to encourage the crop to ripen before the end of the growing season.

If you consider saving seed, then save a few ripe fruit and place them on a shelf that gets plenty of light to ripen the fruit even further, that is; until they becomes quite soft when squeezed.


Week 44>


If harvesting is complete remove haulms and place on compost heap.(Providing they are not diseased e.g. 'blighted' )


Aftercare


Feeding:


During the growing season tomato plants require different feeding regimes e.g.

The correct balance of nutrients is all-important to sugar/acid balance.

Potash is essential for acidity and plenty of sunshine will increase sweetness.


Watering:


Watering can play an important part in tomato flavour and texture.

For example; Too much water can result in a bland flavour, too little can cause toughening and splitting of the skin, so as with feeding, a regular regime should be adopted.

If roots do become uncovered as they often do, cover the said roots with a handful of compost.

If paper doesn't darken at the pressure point add water.


Saving Seed


Firstly select fully ripe tomatoes from the plant/s or as described above, use tomatoes that have been saved and ripened on a sunny shelf.


There are two or three methods of collecting seed for example;


Method 1:


Squeeze the seed out of the tomato onto a paper napkin or piece of kitchen towel and set them aside to dry.

The main problem with this method is when they are dry it is virtuallly impossible to remove the seeds from the paper meaning thatmany of the seperated seeds may have some paper attached to them.

This is not really a problem, in fact it might be said that it is similar to commercial seeds that are sold in 'tape' form rather than loose in the packet.


Once separated place then in a zip lock plastic bag, label them then store them in a cool, dark, dry place.


Method 2:


Squeeze the seed onto a piece of glass and place the glass and seed on a shelf to dry in the sun.

This is virtually the same as the 'paper' method but are somewhat easier to separate.


This is done by scraping them off the glass with a paint scraper or a spatula.

A possible problem here is the seeds are some times damaged by the tool used, or the skin of the seed may remain on the glass.


Once separated place then in a zip lock plastic bag, label them then store them in a cool, dark, dry place.


Method 3:


Squeeze the seed and gel into a carton e.g a vending cup or similar, this method is known as the 'Fermentation Method'

What this method can often do is remove any germination inhibitors, gel from seeds, and it may even treat some seed-borne diseases.


Add clean water to the carton at a ratio of around 3 parts water to 1 part tomato seed s/ gel.

Stir the contents well and label and cover them with a lid and store in a temperature of around 15°-18°C (60°-65°F) for around three days.

Note: Stir the fermenting liquor once or twice a day to help to remove any pulp or gel from the seeds.


After the three days pour the pulpy liquor through a sieve to remove any liquified pulp / debris.

Tip the seeds into a clean container and nearly fill it with clean water and stir the water then allow it to settle.

Once settled what should happen is; the viable tomato seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the container.


If only a few seeds have sunk repeat the stirring and settling process two or three more times until most of the seeds are clean.

Pour the water through a sieve and collect the seeds.


An optional treatment you can apply to the seed is; soak the clean seed in a 10% solution of antibacterial bleach (10 parts water- 1 part bleach) for 30 minutes to kill off any seed-borne disease.

Next; rinse the seeds under cold running water for 5-10 minutes, constantly agitating and stirring the seed as you proceed.


On completion spread the seeds out on a piece of fine mesh.

Note: When doing this it is advisable to spread the seeds out with water spray, not your hand as wet tomato seeds may stick to your hand,plus the fact that this method will also remove any debris that is still adhering to the seeds!


Let the seeds dry for a few days* in a dry well ventilated spot.

* This could be as much as a week subject to the weather and humidity around the seeds.


During the drying process if you notice that a few of the seeds have stuck to each other(clusters) just take the cluster between your thumb and index finger and try and separate them.

Once dry / separated place then in a zip lock plastic bag, label them then store them in a cool, dark, dry place until required.


Tips:


These side shoots can be used for cuttings if necessary.

Place in jar/pot of water until they root, then pot them up initially into 3"(75mm) pots of compost, then when large enough transfer them into the greenhouse border or large pots.

Lightly shaking the plants occasionally will also help.

Yellow sticky trap cards are a useful non-chemical alternative for control of white fly and other flying pests.



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