|PLANT TYPE: Annual
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lycopersicon lycopersicum
LIGHT: Full Sun
SOIL TYPE: Medium-rich, well-drained loam
pH RANGE: 6.0 – 6.5
MOISTURE/WATERING: Moist, not waterlogged
MATURITY IN DAYS: 55 – 105
KNOWN PESTS: Cutworms, Flea beetles
KNOWN DISEASES: Blossom end rot, tomato blight
Tomatoes are the champion of the garden, tomato are one of the most frequently judged vegetables in any garden. Tomatoes are also the number one vegetable to be entered into contests. For the earliest tomatoes, start growing tomato plants indoors and transplant to the garden after there is no longer a danger of frost.
Place individual tomato plants, including roots and dirt, in watered holes. Garden soil should be enriched with compost or aged manure. Use mulch while the tomato plants are still only a few feet tall to ensure moisture retention. For best results with your tomato plants, be sure to use a fertilizer with a high calcium content. This well help prevent blossom-end rot. Do not allow moisture levels to fluctuate too much – this will help prevent cracking. Water directly onto the soil, not the plant.
PROPAGATION / SOWING OF TOMATOES:
Tomatoes are tender plants and are very susceptible to frost damage. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Sow 2-3 tomato seeds in 1×1” cells and thin to 1 plant after germination. Cover tomato seeds with ¼” soil and provide a constant soil temperature of 21-26°C (70-80°F). Once tomato plants are up, a growing light is necessary or seedlings will become tall and spindly. After tomato plants develop 1-2 sets of true leaves, transplant into 3×3” or 4×4” pots. Use a water soluble fetilizer every two weeks starting at half srength and increasing to full strength over 6 weeks. Tomato Seedlings benefit from waterings with Epsom salts, use 1 Tbsp of Epsom salts per gallon. Transplant tomatoes after all danger of frost has passed. When transplanting , space 24-36” apart with rows at least 36-48” apart.
COMPANION PLANTING OF TOMATOES:
Tomatoes do well with asparagus, basil, bush bean, cabbage family, carrot, celery, chive, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, onion, pepper.
CARE & GROWING OF TOMATOES:
Tomatoes prefer a full sun location, preferably with good air circulation. Soil pH of 6.0-6.5. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and prefer a warm, well drained soil of good fertility and cultivation. Add plenty of compost and well rotted manure prior to planting tomatoes. Feed regularly during the growing season with a compost tea or well balanced fertilizer. Avoid excessive nitrogen, particularly before fruit set. Provide even moisture during fruit set and development. Excessive watering can increase tomato size but decrease flavour. Use Epsom salts to improve growth, mix 2 Tbsp/gallon of water and feed to plants every other watering.
HARVESTING OF TOMATOES:
Pick tomatoes when fruit is firm and turning red. Overripe tomatoes rot quickly.
TOMATO PESTS & DISEASES:
Protect tomatoes from cutworms by using protective collars around the plant stem or place cornmeal around plant base. Tomato blossom end rot (a brownish-black, sunken dead area that forms on the bottom of the fruit) is a condition caused by a calcium deficiency due to uneven watering. Tomato blight, another disease common to tomatoes is caused by warm, humid conditions particularly if tomato plants have not been given some support to keep foliage off the ground. Use copper or sulphur sprays to help prevent blight. Good air circulation along with proper rotation will help to prevent onset of this harmful disease.