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How to grow tomatoes step by step
You simply must make a spot in your garden to grow your own tomatoes. As a salad, for use alone, cooked or raw, for making preserves, pickles and sauces, the Tomato is one of the most commonly and widely used of Vegetables. The Tomato is a tender annual, and cannot be planted out in the open ground until all fear of frost is over. Tomatoes may be easily grown without heat, and it is possible in most seasons, to have fairly early Tomatoes in the open ground, providing the plants are raised under cover and hardened off for planting out as soon as weather conditions permit.
The best spot to grow tomatoes
Soil and Preparation: Choose new land each season for Tomatoes, as they deteriorate and contract disease very easily if grown in the same ground several years in succession. In fact, it is a good plan not to replant Tomatoes in ground previously used for this crop for at least four years, The ideal soil for Tomatoes is a deep rich friable loam, but good results will be obtained from most soils providing they are well drained, thoroughly and deeply trenched and well enriched with good, well-decayed cow or stable manure. In the absence of cow or stable manure, Bone Dust, together with some fertiliser rich in Potash, may be used. As Tomatoes require a rich, friable soil, when the ground is stiff, some light soil should be filled in and mixed through with it while trenching. With rich, properly prepared ground, no further fertiliser will be necessary, unless the plants receive a check, in which case a liquid application of Nitrate of Soda will start them going again.
Great care must be taken to see that the plants do not receive a check, as this is fatal to their successful cultivation. Ground heavily manured for a previous crop is also particularly suitable for Tomatoes, and an application of liquid cow manure or Nitrate of Soda may, in this case, be given just after the plants have been set out, so as to start them off. Be careful not to over manure or over-water, as this causes the plants to run to vine, with the result that the flowers drop off and no fruit sets. In this case it is necessary to pinch back the laterals, and cut off all superfluous growth.
How to grow tomatoes by seed
Tomato seed sowing and planting out: Tomatoes can be raised in boxes, in a hot bed, or in peat pots, either placed in a hot bed or kept in a warm position in the house, and under these circumstances, seed can be sown in late winter and early Spring. Being tender and non-frost resistant, seed cannot be sown in a seed bed in the open ground before the end of Spring; sowing may be continued up to early Summer. As plants cannot be put out in the open before the end of Spring, the indoor method is one that will appeal to the Gardener, or to obtain good, strong, stocky seedlings, seed can be sown in pots and the seedlings transplanted into peat or paper pots; at the right time the bottom of the pot is removed, and the frame work, with the plants intact, sunk in the ground, thus saving a fresh transplanting.
Be careful to harden the plants off thoroughly before putting out in the open. For raising Tomato plants in the open a seed bed of light, sandy loam is the most suitable, and this should be in a sheltered corner of the garden. Sow the seed thinly and evenly on the surface of the ground, covering only very lightly with soil. Stretch a piece of hessian or canvas across the bed, about 2 feet above the surface. This will permit the air to circulate amongst the seedlings, and at the same time prevent them from making thin, spindly growth. If the plants come up too thickly, thin out liberally, and when about two inches high, harden them to the sun in gradual stages, and eventually dispense with the shade. When from 3 to 4 inches high, the plants should be sufficiently vigorous to be moved to their permanent position. Whilst growing in the seed bed, they must be regularly and efficiently watered, and kept free from weeds.
Plant out in rows 4 feet apart, and allow 3 feet between the plants. After the plants are set out a 5 foot stake should be driven about 1 foot into the ground near each plant, or these may be placed in readiness before transplanting.
How to train tomato plants
Each plant should be trained to one stem, and as the growth advances, tied to the stake. When about 4 feet high, take out the leader and then the lateral branches which bear flowers, and fruit will develop.
Cut off all superfluous growths and pinch out the leader of the fruit bearing shoots. Should the variety be a free setter, train up two or three shoots at the most, and when the flowers show at the top of each growth, allow two shoots to grow, making six growths in all. Let these continue growing, but keep all other shoots removed as they are only superfluous growths. With a shy-bearing variety, such as Ponderosa; more growths may be left on, but occasionally stop each of them at the joint beyond the one carrying the flowers, to induce them to set. By this means maximum quantity of fruit may be procured with a minimum of space, and an additional advantage is that each row partially shades the next one, while plenty of light is admitted and air can circulate freely amongst the plants.
How to grow tomatoes on trellis
Tomatoes may be grown and trained to a trellis, and by stopping and regulating the shoots as suggested above, first-class crops are possible. After transplanting, a few branches should be put round each plant as a protection against a possible late frost or strong winds, until thoroughly established. When the plants are grown on the ground, a dozen shoots may be left and the small shoots occasionally taken off, the others being stopped at the joint beyond the flower.
How to grow tomatoes: General Cultivation
Whilst the plants are growing, keep the ground between the rows well loosened with the hoe and destroy all weeds. Just about the time the fruit is well formed, mulch the plants with partially decayed cow or stable manure. Tomatoes require plenty of moisture, and the plants will be benefited by regular watering. When carrying a heavy crop, the plants may require an application of liquid cow manure, and if necessary apply this just as the fruit is setting. Ash dusted over the plants, will help keep them free from caterpillars. Do not apply ash on maturing fruit trusses, to prevent making the fruit dirty. Thin the plants heavily so as to give the late fruit already set every opportunity of maturing. Pick the Tomatoes as soon as they ripen.
In the late season any unripe fruit may be picked and put in a closed cupboard or boxes to ripen. There are many varieties of Tomatoes in commerce, but the Gardener is advised to make a selection from the following tested and reliable sorts : Earliana (The ”Earliest” of all Tomatoes), Chalk’s Early Jewel, Burwood Prize, Wilding’s Prolific and Indomitable. ”fonderosa” bears a fine, handsome, large fruit, but the plant is a rather shy yielder.
”Abundance” and ”Invincible” are two other good second early sorts, and it is always worth while putting in a few plants of one of the fancy dessert varieties, such as Green Gage, Pear-shaped, the Peach or Red Currant.
The fungal disease Blight is the worst to affect your tomato plants. First of all the plants look as if they are suffering from want of water; and afterwards they go black, as if frost bitten. As soon as the disease is detected, pull the plants up and burn them right away, otherwise the trouble will spread in your soil.