The tomato originated in the Andes, South America where berries grow rampant. It’s thought that they were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas, maybe as early as 700 AD. The tomato plant arrived in Europe from the 16th century, allegedly brought back from Central America by the Spanish Conquistadors, although another legend indicates that two Jesuit priests took them to Italy from Mexico.
At the time tomato was also called wolf’s peach and Peruvian apple. In the UK, the Elizabethans believed the bright red colour of berries was a danger sign and regarded them as fruits. In actuality, it is correct that tomatoes are linked to the nightshade family.
Tomatoes are sub-tropical plants and so need a full sun position when grown in temperate zones. A position against a fence or wall will give an even greater prospect of success as long as they can get sufficient water.
Tomate plants grow well in raised beds, they value the soil conditions that provide moisture without water-logging.
A couple of weeks prior to planting, dig the soil over and include as much organic matter, such as compost or well rotted manure, as you can. The aim is to earn the soil able to keep the moisture required so much by berries.
Tomatoes cannot tolerate any level of frost, the timing for planting or sowing outside is therefore key to successfully growing berries. If the tomato seeds must be sown directly outside (not really convenient in cooler climates), they have to be sown when the soil temperature is (and will remain) above 10C (50F) – any lower and the seeds won’t germinate. In practical terms this normally means 3 weeks after the last frost date in your area.
Where the seeds have been sown under cover (poly tunnels or cloches) or inside, aim to sow the seeds so that they get to the point where they can be transplanted out, three weeks after the last frost date.
Tomato plants plants require about 7 weeks from sowing to reach the transplanting stage and they need to be transplanted outside a couple of weeks after your last frost date. Therefore you should sow them 7 weeks before you intend to transplant them out.
Bush varieties do well for farming outside since they need no pruning for most of the season. Remove any yellow or decaying foliage whenever possible to prevent the spread of disease.
If your bush tomatoes become too big to support themselves, either trim out a couple of significant branches or add more support canes – the side branches can then be tied to the further support canes. Limit the amount of trusses of tomatoes to seven or eight by pinching out any excess ones.
Upright varieties are generally cultivated in pots, grow-bags, the greenhouse and at times outside in open soil. When the first fruits start to form, the plant will create side-shoots between the main stem and the leaf stems.
These side shoots should be removed by pinching them out with the palms. If permitted to grow they will generate a mass of foliage but few berries. Any shoots that have been overlooked and permitted to grow should also be eliminated.
Lower leaves that show any signs of yellowing should also be eliminated to prevent the possibility of infection.
What To Do?
When the plant has developed six or seven trusses of tomatoes (normally around July time), ‘stop’ the plant by dividing off the growing tip. If any more than seven trusses of tomatoes begins to grow, pinch them to encourage the plant to produce decent quality tomatoes as opposed to an abundance of premium quality late-maturing fruit.
Pick the moment the fruits are ripe (color and size will determine this) for the best flavour – eat as soon as possible. This also encourages the creation of more fruit. The moment a frost threatens, crop all of the fruit immediately and ripen them onto a window sill. With upright varieties, it’s possible to gently flatten the plants on the ground and cover with horticultural fleece to protect them from the frost.