Growing tomatoes at home offers a double advantage: the beauty of these fruits embellishes the interior of one’s home and the entire household can benefit from its flavour at harvest. However, one often gets lost when the time comes to choose tomato seedlings. Between the different varieties available on the market and the production from seeds, there are a number of available options. Therefore, a choice must be made.

Before starting the cultivation, one needs to select the tomato plants to put in the ground. There is a wide choice available among a large number of varieties.

Choosing a tomato plant in the trade

Purchasing your tomato plant in the trade is an easy solution for those who are in a hurry. The seedlings are either displayed in trays, in pots or in the form of grafted plants. The grafted tomato plants are the easiest ones to put in the ground. The young tomato seedling is already thick,rigid and straight. On its ends, thick leaves that can withstand the cold well are visible. It easily adapts to all types of soil, and we can therefore expect a good harvest.

On the other hand, the trays usually hold six small tomato shoots that will need to be transplanted in pots or in the garden. When seedlings in trays are combined with those in pots, we notice that both types reach the same degree of maturation within a few days. In fact, seedlings in small pots are sown only a few days before those placed in trays, which denotes a small difference in their degree of evolution. Still, there is a clear difference in terms of price: a plant in a small pot costs twice as much as one in a tray. The grafted seedling is even more expensive and averages six times the price of tray varieties. Thus, despite its interesting characteristics, the grafted seedling does not give you the best value for your money.

Obtaining your plants by sowing

With the sowing alternative, there is an economical way to produce tomato plants. For this, we will collect the seeds of a ripe and healthy fruit. The seeds are then placed in a cup filled with water. They will be left there for five days, until a thick foam starts to form on the liquid’s surface. The resulting mixture will then be passed through a strainer to separate the seeds from the water. Then, the nuclei are separated from the foam using a utensil such as a fork. This foam contains the tomato’s toxins. All that is left is to dry the obtained seeds. We will then proceed in a very specific manner to produce tomato plants. Line the bottom of a small polyester box with a mixture containing gravel and a layer of horticultural potting soil. The seeds are planted one by one, ensuring to leave a two-inch (5 cm) space between each. They are then covered with a thin layer of potting soil, followed by gentle watering. After a few days, two-leaf shoots will emerge and will need to be transplanted in small pots. The seedlings will be exposed to the sun in the afternoon so that they slowly gain in strength. They can then be planted in the garden permanently.

Which tomato varieties should you favour?

Tomatoes are plants that require heat. The weather in temperate regions make cultivation much more binding. The severe winter weather that prevails slows the development of tomato plants, which is why one needs to select the appropriate varieties to grow. In recent decades, hybrids have been produced and they offer have many advantages over heirloom varieties. Some of them are more resistant to the various diseases that affect tomatoes. The longevity of these species results in improved productivity, and yield is thus increased. In regions where spring and summer are very short, it is better to opt for fast-growing varieties. Fourth of July tomato, for example, is the earliest non-cherry variety and is usually ripe 49 days after transplanting in the ground.  Besides hybrid tomatoes, you can always turn to heirloom species such as Brandywine, Cherokee purple or Garden Peach. Today, San Marzano tomatoes are becoming increasingly popular because of their specific characteristics. They produce an elongated fruit that has very few seeds. The taste is strong but sweet and less acidic than other varieties such as the Roma tomatoes. As a matter of fact, San Marzano tomatoes are considered by many chefs to be the best sauce tomatoes in the world. For those who like unusual plants, they will find them easily in the trade, either in red or pink colour.

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  3. Leaving sufficient space between seedlings to let them grow well
  4. Tomatoes

Published in Tomatoes by Alexander on 14 Sep 2011