Today, the cultivation of tomato plants no  longer holds any secrets. Those who want to try it out have a large array of tips and tricks to assist them as best as possible. If one wants to eat healthy tomato, all the steps of cultivation, from sowing to harvest, need to be taken seriously. In addition to being a fruit with thick  pulp, the tomato is a herbaceous plant of which the aerial parts die after fruiting.

A fresh, red and spotless tomato is an indication of all the care that the plant received during its growth. On the other hand, a less attractive tomato of poor taste is the result of a gardener’s poor work, meaning one who lacked the proper know-how and was negligent. To avoid crop failure, follow the tips below, all the while taking pleasure in growing your tomato plants.

Characteristics of tomatoes

The tomato belongs to the category of flowering plants with fused petals. The cultivation of tomato is widespread and its consumption can take various forms. The reason is that the tomato is well-liked for its abundant flesh, for its high vitamin content, and also because it undergoes no transformation before reaching the consumer.

From sowing to in-ground planting

The tomato’s sowing period begins in January and ends in March of the same year. Since the tomato plants are fond of temperatures between 64.5 ° F and 71.5 ° F (18 ° C and 22 ° C), it is recommended to start sowing within these two months.  Avoid sowing tomato seeds in an environment where the temperature remains below 50 ° F (10 ° C). Tomato seeds should be sown in a bucket filled with soil that is rich in fertilizer, which you can easily find in the trade. Put two or three seeds in the small container and bury them well. In general, they do not take long to germinate. Still, take the time to transplant the seedlings in slightly larger containers before transporting them in the ground. This procedure, final in-ground planting, is carried out from April to mid-June. Start by laying out the plot of land that will be used for cultivation, ensuring that it is ready to accomodate the tomato seedlings.  Exposed to the sun, the soil should be tilled, enriched with fertilizer, and watered every day. The next step is to plant your seedlings in rows, keeping a 3-foot (1 m) distance between planting rows. Within a row, a distance of 20 inches (50 cm) between the plants is ideal. Push the seedlings well into the ground and then water, taking special care not to wet the leaves.

Staking at the end of the season

Harvesting tomatoes takes place from the third week of August until the end of October. However, prior to harvest, you will need to carry out specific actions in order for the picked fruit to be strong and of good quality. These include staking, pruning, sucker pinching and regular watering. Staking can be conducted 10 to 15 days after in-ground planting. This simply involves driving into the ground an iron rod that will support a tomato plant. Tie the plant to the stake using raffia. Thus, as the plant grows in height, it will lean on the rod to which it its attached. Staking keeps leaves and fruit from being in contact with the ground, which prevents decay and the onset of disease.

Pruning consists of cutting the lateral shoots in order to favour the penetration of sunlight, which is necessary for fruiting. However, this procedure should not be performed without caution. During pruning, be sure to only cut the leaves that are obstacles to the light’s penetration. Ultimately, pruning should leave, at most, three stems cleared of suckers, as they may reduce the harvest.

Once all this is done, water the ground with half a gallon (2 L) of water per plant every 5 days. Tomato plants like well drained soils and a lack of water prevents the plant from drawing the nutrients needed for itts development from the ground. This usually results in the plant withering. Watering should be done with liquid comfrey manure (for the plant’s fruiting) and phosphorus (for root growth). After two months of harvest, take the time to rid the plant of yellow and sick leaves, as well as with those that are in direct contact with the ground. This is done to stimulate the maturation of the last tomatoes before the frosting period, which indicates the end of the season.

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Published in Tomatoes by Alexander on 14 Sep 2011