Tomatoes are considered to be one of the most widely grown vegetables at home. Being a warm weather lover, tomato plants are grown only once the frost has completely cleared and the soil is warm. Therefore, mid-to-late spring is usually the best time to plant tomatoes. Depending on the type of tomatoes and the growing conditions, it may take between 60-100 days from growth to harvest.
Before we get into how to grow them, let’s take a look at the 2 main types of tomatoes plants you can choose for your garden.
The bush variety is great for those who don’t have a lot of space as they easily fit into containers. They grow to only about 3 feet tall and produce fruits all at once during a short period and usually do not grow after fruiting. The Roma is a bush variety tomato.
The second variety is the vining kind and requires more space. They are suitable to be grown in bigger backyards and they need stalks for support. Fruit production for this variety continues for a much longer period and can go on all through summer and into fall. Beefsteak and cherry tomatoes fall within the vining tomato variety.
There are two ways you can consider growing tomatoes. The first is directly from the seed, and the second is buying healthy starter plants from nurseries. If you are planting a seed, harden your seedlings before planting. You can do this by placing them outside in the sun for a few hours for about a week and then planting them indoors in small germination containers during early spring.
Pick a sunny spot in your garden or your balcony (if you are growing them in containers).
Dig holes about a foot deep and plant your seedling or starter plant at least 2 feet apart or in separate containers. If planting vining tomatoes, add the stalks at this time. Apply a mixture of Nurture Growth Bio-Fertilizer mixed with water to the soil before planting.
Continue to water your plant regularly at the base. Since tomatoes require a lot of sun, they need moisture during the warmer parts of the day. Watering early in the morning helps to retain moisture better than afternoons. Deep watering also ensures that the plants develop strong root systems. If it gets too hot, cover the soil at the base of the plant with flat rocks or chips to prevent water from evaporating.
Since tomatoes are heavy feeders, it is important to provide them with adequate nutrients for healthy growth. For an area which is 1 row long or 5 sqft, mix 1 teaspoon of Nurture Growth Biofertilizer with 1 litre of water and spray once every 15 days plants after planting. Apply the mix generously over the leaves and the base of the plant. Stop fertilization during pollination and resume once fruiting begins. The proprietary microorganisms within Nurture Growth helps the plant unlock the nutrients in the soil and increases its ability to absorb the required amounts.
Monitoring Pests and Diseases
Tomato plants are unfortunately suspectable to pests, and constantly need to be monitored. Here are some common problems tomato plants face as a result of pests:
Sticky residue on leaves are often caused by aphids and whiteflies.
Chewed stems and stunted or weak young plants are caused by cutworms.
Flea beetles, fruitworms, slugs and snails eat the leaves and fruits of the plant and leave holes.
White mold which is really webbing caused by spider mites that feed on the sap of the plant.
Defoliation caused by the non-stop eating of leaves and fruit by hornworms.
To keep such pests away, examine the tomato plants closely. Check under the leaves, near the soil and the fruit once the fruit develops. Remove pests off as many surfaces as possible either by handpicking them or spraying water on them.
Growing companion plants is also a great way to keep pests away from tomatoes. Plant herbs like borage, parsley, mint, basil and nasturtiums to deter a large number of pests.
You can even plant marigold flowers as their sharp fragrance drives away harmful insects.
Just like pests, there are a number of diseases that can affect tomato plants. Here are some of the most problems gardeners face.
1. Blossom-End Rot is a disease causes that causes the bottom the tomato to become dark and develop sunken spots. This happens as a result of calcium imbalance. Overwatering or large fluctuations in the soil moisture affects the ability of the plant to uptake calcium. As a result, the fruit tissue starts to break down and rot leading to the dark spots. This also happens if the root of the plant is damaged which prevents them from efficiently absorbing nutrients or water. To avoid blossom-end rot:
Make sure the roots are not disturbed
Soil pH levels are slightly acidic (at 6.5) and add eggshells or small quantities of bonemeal to supplement calcium.
Water the plants consistently and evenly.
2. Early or Late Blight is a fungal disease that occurs as a result of persistent damp weather. Early blight starts with dark, concentric dark spots about ½-inch in diameter on the lower leaves and stems. Controlling humidity or destroying infected leaves early on are the best measures to save an infected plant. Late Blight on the other causes grey moldy spots on leaves and fruit which later turn a dark brown. This disease is also caused by damp weather.
3. The Mosaic Virus creates distorted leaves and causes new growth to be narrow and twisted. The leaves become mottled with yellow, white or dark green spots creating a mosaic like pattern. Infected plants cannot be treated and should be destroyed. Keep a close eye on plants nearby to see if they have contracted the virus. This virus can spread to other plants through gardening tools. Therefore, it is important to disinfect them before using on other plants. Aphids and leafhoppers are the most common reason for the spread of this virus. Controlling such pests will help reduce the possibility of your plants being infected by this virus.
4. Fusarium Wilt is a fungal disease which causes yellowing and wilting of the plant. Unfortunately, if the plant is infected, there is no effective disease and the plant needs to be destroyed. Make sure the soil under the infected plant is replaced before a new plant is planted.
5. Cracking is an issue that arises when the fruit growth become too rapid causing the skin will crack. This usually occurs due to uneven watering or uneven moisture from extreme weather conditions. Keeping moisture levels consistent with even watering and mulching help to prevent this problem. Cracking is more common among larger fruit varieties such as Beefsteak.
It is advisable to prevent diseases and pests rather than to treat them once the plants are affected.
Many tomato hybrid plants are available in nurseries which are a lot more resistant to the above mentioned diseases. If you’ve noticed any of these issues last year while growing tomatoes, speak to your local garden centre to find out if they have hybrid starter plants for this season.
The right time for harvest is when tomatoes are firm and bright red in colour, regardless of the size. If the fruits are orange, yellow or purple, wait till they turn red. Don’t pick tomatoes that are not ripe and place them in the sun, they will rot!
About Nurture Growth Bio-Fertilizer
We rescue food waste from supermarkets and restaurants and with a little help from our proprietary blend of beneficial microorganisms, transform it into safe and earth-friendly fertilizers. Our organic bio-fertilizer is 100% organic and chemical-free, and safe to use on both indoor and outdoor plants. What’s more, it is safe to use around humans and pets! Our fertilizer is multipurpose and can be used on vegetables, fruits, trees, lawns and even on cannabis!
Feel free to write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to know more about applying Nurture Growth on other vegetables. We also invite you to join us for our end-of-the-month webinar series every 4th Thursday and Saturday to learn more about new trends and gardening tips!
Elizabeth hails from India, grew up in Dubai and travelled to more than 20 countries before settling down in Canada in 2018. The majority of her working life was spent in Advertising, assisting clients with executing successful brand launches and ad campaigns across industries such as CPG, fashion and real estate. At present, she is working on building up her skills in Digital Marketing and learning about new markets and processes. She loves animals and enjoys spending time with her cat Twinkie.