Growing tomatoes is often the impetus for starting a vegetable garden and every tomato lover dreams of growing the ultimate tomato. Firm, but juicy. Sweet, but tangy. Aromatic and blemish free. Perfection. Tomato, Benefits And Tips!
Tomato, Benefits And Tips
If you grow fruits and vegetables, chances are you’ve thought of growing tomatoes. With so many varieties, delicious flavors, and health benefits, what’s not to love?
With proper care in the planting, growing, and harvesting stages, you can enjoy a successful crop this year and for years to come.
Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?
The confusion about ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetable’ arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower. And contain the seeds of the plant.
Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut. Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a ‘fruit’. Though it is not developed from the ovary: the strawberry is an example.
Disease resistance is important! Because tomatoes are vulnerable to a number of diseases that can weaken the plant and reduce yields. Look at the seed packet or plant label to see if the variety has resistance to verticillium and fusarium wilt. Two very common soil-borne diseases that affect tomatoes.
Resistance to these diseases is designated by a V or F after the variety name. If tomatoes in your region suffer from root-knot nematode (N), Tobacco Mosaic virus (T) or Alternaria (A), look for resistance to these diseases as well. Late blight is a problem in many areas, so choose a variety that’s resistant.
Provide Lots of Light
Tomato seedlings need strong, direct light. Days are short during winter, so even placing them near a very sunny window may not provide them with sufficient natural light.
Unless you are growing them in a greenhouse, your best option is to use some type of artificial plant lighting, for 14 – 18 hours every day.
Where to Grow
Tomatoes are sub-tropical plants and therefore require a position in full sun. This is especially important in most areas of the UK and Ireland where sunlight and warmth are at a premium even in mid-summer.
A position against a wall or fence will give a better chance of success as long as they can receive sufficient water; avoid hedges as the soil will be too dry. Tomato plants also grow very well in raised beds. They appreciate the soil conditions which provide moisture without water-logging.
How to Choose Tomatoes
Choosing tomato varieties can be confusing because there are so many, so use our Tomato Chooser to help you pick the best for your garden.
It’s a good idea to grow a range of varieties, including at least one or two disease-resistant types, since, of all veggies, tomatoes tend to be the most susceptible to disease.
Pick as soon as the fruits are ripe (colour and size will identify this) for the best flavour – eat as soon as possible. This also encourages the production of more fruit. As soon as a frost threatens in October/November, harvest all the fruit immediately and ripen them on a window sill.
With upright varieties, it is possible to gently flatten the plants and cover with horticultural fleece to protect them from frost.
Getting Your Tomato Plants to Set Tomatoes
A lot of vegetable gardening is at the mercy of the weather, but sometimes we can help things along. There are two types of tomato plants. Determinate tomatoes reach a certain height and then set and ripen their fruit all at one time, making a large quantity available when you’re ready to make a sauce.
These tend to start flowering fairly early in the season and it shouldn’t be a problem getting them to set fruit unless weather conditions are unfavorable and cause a condition aptly named.