Fruit and Vegetables

Grow tomatoes

Grow tomatoes

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Grow tomatoes

Growing tomatoes is quite simple but requires knowledge of different operations to have a satisfactory result.
The first thing to know is that the tomato does not like the cold climate, so it should be planted in spring: around May in northern Italy and in April in the south. Generally you buy the plants ready to be transplanted by the nurseryman or at the Agricultural Consortium; it is advisable to choose beautiful sturdy ones, about 20 cm high, dark green in color and not tending to reddish because it would mean that they have suffered from the cold. You can opt for the dwarf or bush qualities that remain lower and are easier to cultivate, or for the varieties called "cord" that can become even two meters high.
If you prefer to sow, you need to start about a month or two earlier. Cassettes are prepared, one for each chosen quality, the seeds are distributed on the soil surface and covered with a light layer of soil, then it is pressed and wets well. It is important to affix a sign for each box with the name of the variety. They are sprouted in the greenhouse or, if not available, at home: it will take about a week to see them appear. As the seedlings grow, the strongest and luxuriant seedlings are planted so as to thin out, leaving room for the weakest. The seedbed must be kept in a fairly warm and protected place, otherwise the germination will be blocked and the necessary seedlings will not be obtained to grow this vegetable, so fresh and tasty.

Soil preparation

The soil must be prepared in advance: you choose a land that has not hosted solanaceae or cucurbits because the soil could be a vehicle for diseases for tomatoes or in any case too exploited; an accurate digging is done then the well-seasoned manure is introduced. When there is no longer any risk of cold or frost, the seedlings are planted by carefully tilting the jar and placing the seedling with the entire earthen bread in the soil, about a couple of centimeters from the ground level, finally, press the earth well around the foot. The distance between the seedlings must be about 40 cm from each other and that between the rows of about one meter so that you can pass between the rows without too much difficulty, making it much easier to collect these vegetables.

Plant care

After about 40 days from seeding the seedlings will now all be transplanted.
The quality of tomato that grows as a cord needs support, therefore a brace is placed, which is usually a small cane, in the soil next to the foot of the plant. With a thread of raffia you make two turns around the support, then a slow turn around the plant and again on the guardian, so as to support without tightening; as the plant grows, the operation is repeated.
Another important operation is mulching which consists of covering the ground under the plant. With this system it is possible to have several advantages: to avoid the growth of weeds as much as possible, to prevent the fruits from being ruined by touching the ground and to maintain a sufficient humidity. You can use straw, nettle or plastic sheets.
When the plant has four scaffolding of leaves one must finally proceed with the topping, that is, cut the top to avoid the formation of other flowers and thus favor fruiting.
As far as irrigation is concerned, it being understood that it can vary according to the climate, the location and the variety, in general it can be said that the tomato, if the climate is not excessively dry, does not need many waterings just as much as enough to make the plant vegetate. It is a good idea to check that the water cannot cause water stagnation, as these can quickly lead to the onset of root rot and fungal diseases, which, if not quickly countered, can cause serious damage to the plants and their fruits.

Fruit ripening and harvesting

The tomatoes should be harvested as soon as they are ripe by gently removing them so as not to ruin the plant: take the tomato with the palm of your hand and rotate it until it comes off. The cluster winter qualities, on the other hand, must be harvested when one of the cherry tomatoes in the bunch begins to turn red, at which point the whole bunch is cut with scissors. Take a strand of raffia and lean about four or five bunches on it, tie it in a loop and leave two long threads to hang them and place them in a cool, dry place where they will slowly continue to ripen. This way you have juicy tomatoes throughout the winter season.
Usually the harvest begins around the middle of June, but this also depends on the climate and the area in which they are grown.

Diseases and cultivation difficulties

The most frequent problems to be addressed in tomato cultivation they are constituted by the appearance of diseases such as the mildew which is a fungus that develops when humidity is high or after heavy rains or in any case when the leaves have been excessively wet. Usually farmers fight this disease with "verdigris" or "verdigris" which are based on copper sulphate but if you prefer a natural fungicide you can prepare the macerate of nettle: 200 grams of dried nettle for 10 liters of water . With this preparation the soil is irrigated for at least 3 days in a row; to obtain greater efficacy it is preferable to use macerate as a prevention.
Another problem that occurs quite frequently is the apical rot that manifests itself with a blackening of the lower extremity of the fruit which starts there from rotting. It is due to water imbalances (poor or excessive watering) in conjunction with a lack of calcium. Therefore it is necessary to rebalance the waterings and to carry out foliar treatments with calcium-based products.

Growing tomatoes in pots

For those who are not lucky enough to own a plot of land suitable for the cultivation of these vegetables directly in the open ground, an interesting and easy alternative to implement is to proceed with the cultivation of tomatoes in pots. With this mode, it will be enough to have a small corner on a terrace or a balcony, to be able to pick healthy and tasty vegetables. In this type of cultivation the foresight to have is to choose varieties that have a development of the contained plant, so as not to have too large an environment. As for the best varieties for the pot, we can say that the cherries are well suited to this type of cultivation, but it is also possible to grow tomatoes San Marzano or the heart of beef, tasty and with a soft pulp. Fundamental, as in the case of cultivation in the open ground, is to plant their own plants only when the outdoor climate no longer has low temperatures, as the plants do not tolerate cold climates. The recommended month for planting this type of plants is May. It should be remembered that these vegetables prefer a soil with the right degree of humidity but that it is well drained, to avoid water stagnation and the consequent onset of diseases and rot. The vases must be chosen carefully, verifying that they have the right size to allow the roots to grow and develop without constraints. To get an idea of ​​the dimensions, we say that the vase for a single plant should have a diameter of about 30 cm. It is also possible to use rectangular basins or tanks, in which to sow more plants, taking care to thin them to allow for more correct growth.

Potted tomato seedlings

To obtain good results with the cultivation in pots, it must be remembered that the plants must be placed in an area of ​​the balcony or terrace where they can receive sunlight for several hours a day; light is essential to have a good tomato production. Depending on the variety chosen, it will be necessary to use braces to help support the plant, allowing it to grow. While the plant is developing it is good to proceed with regular but measured watering, without exceeding and without allowing the water to stagnate for too long in the possible saucer. It is good to check that the soil always maintains a certain degree of humidity but that it is not excessive; avoid wetting the foliage and proceed with this operation during the hottest hours of the day. We recommend watering in the evening. The tomato plants, depending on the type, the exposure and the climate, will begin to produce their fruit after about a month and a half, being able to proceed with the harvest starting from the end of June.

Tomato variety

As you certainly know, it is possible to choose from a great variety of different tomatoes, starting from the cherry tomatoes, which are characterized by their small size, up to the tasty beef heart, passing through the San Marzano, Carmelo and datterini.
To better understand what type of tomato is best to cultivate need to take into account the different needs of the varieties and the place where they will be grown. In addition to this it is good to know that there are certain growth varieties, which means that the plant, once it reaches the correct height, stops developing, and plants of indeterminate growth, which must be cimated to maintain the desired height. The latter are those that are usually used for growing in vegetable gardens and for fresh consumption, after harvesting. Speaking of the characteristics of the most famous varieties, for example, the heart of beef is a tomato used to make tasty salads; it has a thin skin and a very soft and mellow pulp. A similar variant, but with a more consistent pulp is the ribbed tomato. The cherry tomato is very common, it can be used in many preparations and eaten raw for its sweetness. To make sauces, a very popular variety is the San Marzano tomato, which has a low water content pulp and is characterized by an elongated shape.
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