From planting, which can be left in the hands of professionals, to protection from the elements, there is no shortage of techniques and tips for growing tomatoes. Watering, planting, pruning… Huerto Natural reveals 11 secrets to growing your tomatoes like a true professional.
1. Cultivation of various varieties of tomatoes
What a pleasure it is to enjoy good tomatoes for several months! Try several varieties in different sizes, shapes, colors, and flavors. In this way, you will multiply the possibilities of enjoying a good meal.
When should I plant oxheart tomatoes?
Especially prized for their generous flesh, oxheart tomatoes are among gardeners’ favorites. This early variety can be sown under cover from March through April and transplanted once the risk of frost has been eliminated. This usually happens in mid-May.
How long does it take to grow tomatoes?
From planting to harvest, it takes at least 4 months, or even 5 months if the sun doesn’t shine. Most of the time, the first harvests take place at the end of July, with August being a bountiful harvest month for tomatoes.
2. Commercial or home plants—who wins?
Commercial plants: it couldn’t be more convenient, since you only buy them when you are ready to plant them. But they can be expensive (up to 4 euros a piece!) and there is not always diversity, especially if you decide a little late.
When planting, remember to label them well with the names of the varieties; it will be easier to find them later.
Home plants: they are cheaper, and you will have access to greater diversity. But making your own tomato plants requires equipment and care… A veranda or a bright space behind a large window is the minimum condition to make it worthwhile.
3. Is shed insurance for tomatoes?
Perforated plastic flaps or clear plastic roofs don’t make tomatoes invincible against mold. However, they delay the appearance of problems and prevent a wet episode from spoiling your harvest. Also use other techniques, in particular, a sulfur treatment every 15 days, as soon as the temperature exceeds 20°C. Also, remember to leave at least 60 cm between plants.
4. Pruning and pinching to a suitable size
Without fail, prune the suckers that form in the axils of the indeterminate varieties’ leaves, as well as the leaves that touch the ground. Also remove the first flower in varieties with very large fruits (often deformed).
Cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, do not need to be pruned because they naturally form a bush. Early varieties also do not need pruning. Cocktail tomatoes also do not need pruning.
5. What is the best fertilizer for my tomato plant?
At the bottom of the planting hole, add Soil Vigor to unlock nutrient-bound compounds in the soil, respecting the dosage indicated on the package, burying 20 cm of the stem (even if it means angling the plant into the hole) so that the roots appear underground at the base of the stem is a real bonus.
If you fear your tomato plants are infested with nematodes, try to use safe and effective nematode control with Nema Pro, Begin by digging up a particularly vulnerable plant. These parasites infest roots with a number of strange knobby growths.
6. How to cultivate cherry tomatoes in a pot
A little pozzolan in the bottom of the pot ensures good drainage. In pots, we prefer compact varieties with a certain size or cherry tomatoes; the pot may not be big enough for other varieties. Choose a container large enough, at least 40 cm deep, so that its roots can spread. Fill the bottom of the container with a draining agent, such as pozzolan. Cover with a mixture of potting soil and compost, and consider installing a stake. Water abundantly at planting time and keep the soil cool. Outside, the substrate dries quickly, so watering must be very regular. Be sure to empty the saucer after each watering to prevent the roots from bathing in standing water.
7. Double graft tomatoes
You will find grafted tomato plants at garden centers. In these plants, the top of one plant (the graft) has been “welded” to the root system of another plant (the rootstock). The rootstock provides disease resistance and vigor, while the barb is chosen for its quality or the flavor of the fruit. Two varieties can be grafted on the same rootstock.
The characteristics of tomatoes vary greatly from one variety to another.
The yields are higher (70% more vegetables), the harvest period is longer (one week before and one week after), the varieties are chosen from among the tastiest, and the plants are more resistant. These plants are tolerant of beginner’s mistakes and the vagaries of the weather.
8. Water them, but don’t wet the foliage
There are several ways to water tomatoes (hose, watering can, drip), but the most important thing is not to wet the foliage (risk of disease development, mold). Remember to water them regularly, every day when it’s hot—scale up the watering if the soil is very humid—and you can mulch the base so that the soil retains a little moisture (limited evaporation); this allows you to space out the watering a bit.
9. Grow your tomato in a greenhouse
The advantages of the greenhouse
The greenhouse allows you to fight against the number one enemy of tomatoes: mold! Yes, those brown spots that appear on the fruits and leaves are drying up. The mold quickly gains ground and infects all the tomato plants; if we do not react, the crops vanish… By cultivating in a cold greenhouse, we avoid the humidity of rain and dew, control the water supply, and greatly limit the appearance of this dreaded disease. Try to protect your crops with Novobac’s Trianum Shield biofungicide, if necessary. Also, as it is hotter, the fruits ripen earlier and faster.
When should I plant tomatoes in the greenhouse?
In the greenhouse, we sow in February and plant in April, which allows us to save a little time depending on the region.
Some rules to follow
Try to ventilate your greenhouse regularly, as you risk the appearance of other pests, such as the whitefly. Without natural irrigation, it is necessary to consider making more regular water contributions than in open land. The same happens with fertilizers since in a pot you have to be careful so that the tomatoes do not lack nutrients. The tomato self-fertilizes and the pollen falls on the pistil thanks to pollinators and the wind. Remember to move your flowers, which will be less stressful than in the open ground.
10. Keep some distance between tomato plants
The planting distance varies between 70 cm and 80 cm between each plant and each row. This distance prevents the creation of an environment conducive to the development of cryptogamic diseases.
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