In this tip:
- A)# Sowing and germinating
- B)# Transplanting
- C)# Tomato plants, taking out of flower pots and putting in a compost layer
- D)# Sowing early or sowing late
- E)# Putting tomato plants in the garden soil
- F)# Roof over the plants or in the open air
Below a description about growing tomatoes.
A)# Sowing and germinating
A1) Sowing date and species
Tomatoes are sown indoors in early spring (March or April). But you can start with a few plants in late winter (February) to have early tomatoes.
I have good results when using the tomato species “Moneymaker”. Raising plants from seeds goes well. The plant produces many big healty fruits as shown on the photos above. In a closed, seperate garden, many good tomatoes grow on plants in the open air during a good (warm dry) summer. At longlasted or much rain, some tomatoes get cracks. When you break off the leaves with brown spots, there is less risk of rotting fruits due to the plant disease Phytophthora.
I harvested many good tomatoes in my backyard garden at self raised Moneymaker plants, just in the open air. Two neighbours in our street had bought tomato plants (of another species) and had planted them in their backyard gardens, in the open air. Their tomato plants had many brown leaves and rotting fruits. So you better grow your own plants from seed (of a known good species) than buy plants without knowing the species and the sensitivity of Phytophthora (Tomato Blight).
A2) Sowing and germinating
You can sow tomatoes in a small (250 grams) plastic margarine box filled with sieved moist potting soil. Sieving potting soil goes well through the bottom holes of a plastic flower pot.
- Fill a small (250 grams) margarine box with potting soil.
- Flatten the top of the soil.
- Use the bottom of another margarine box to press on the potting soil.
- Spray cold water on the potting soil.
- Lay tomato seeds on the potting soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil.
A3) Sowing tip 1: mat
- Drop 1 tomato seed in each mat hole.
- Right after sowing, remove the mat.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil.
- Put (lay) a well fitting lid loose on the box with sowing soil. Or click on at one side.
A4) Sowing tip 2: shove drop tray
You can pick tomato seeds between thumb and index and drop into the mat holes. But sowing is also very easy when using a shove drop tray. This tray is described in tip 33) .
A5) Sowing tip 3: big margarine box
In a big (500 grams) margarine box you can grow more plants: 24 instead of 15.
A5a) Original (not cut) margarine box
You can use a “normal (non cut) 500 grams margarine box. Lay the original lid loose on the margarine box (or click at 1 side).
- Spray water on, lay seeds on, cover with potting soil (on the middle photo above there are sweet pepper seeds on the potting soil, but this procedure works at tomato seeds as well).
The original lid fits well on the margaine box with cut upper part (wide edge), as shown on this “upside down photo”.
The lid is not stuck, but it lays loose on the upper edge of the cut margarine box.
- When first plants are visible, remove the lid or the top margarine box.
- When you wait too long, plants will grow thin and long.
- Place the box with plants indoors, near a window. Temp between 15 and 20 C (59 to 68 F).
- You can put the little tomato plants on a sill before a window, under such a mini green house. This transparent top is a plastic box meant for selling mushrooms. You can use a similar transparent plastic box.
- Try to have some room (about 1 centimeter, 0.5 inch) between transparent box and window sill to have enough air circulation.
When the plants are about 2.5 cm (1 inch) remove the transparent box. Let the plants grow bigger at a light, cool place (before a window at about 15 to 18 C (59 to 64 F). You will get firm plants.
Let the tomato plants grow in the margarine box until they have 4 or more leaves. Then they are big enough for transplanting. As shown on the photo above. The plants have branched roots, and much sowing soil will hang to the roots. After replanting, these plants grow on better.
A7) Germinating tomato seeds without covering soil
Tomato seeds germinate well without covering soil. This is very illustrative and educational for everyone, espicially for school children. More photos and info about this topic in chapter A7) of tip 8) of my Dutch blog .
When plants have 4 (or more) leaves, you can transplant them. Fill small flower pots with a thin layer of potting soil or compost. Put each plant with a small root ball in a pot. Plant depth: 2 lower leaves (seed leaves) just above soil. Then fill the flower pot with compost or potting soil until full. In this way plants will make more roots and will not fall over that easy.
Note: later on, the lower leaves of the tomato plant will still grow up a few centimeters (1 inch or so).
Place the pots with tomato plants on a light, cool place, 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F). Tomatoes grow much faster than (sweet) peppers. When tomato plants grow thin and long than the place is too warm and/or too dark. Put them at a colder place with more light.
C)# Tomato plants, taking out of flower pots and putting in a compost layer
On the photo above, tomato plants have been taken out of flower pots and put in a layer of compost in a shopping crate. Tomato plants have grown bigger already.
D)# Sowing early or sowing late
You can sow tomatoes very early (mid or end of February, late winter).
Then the plants can be put in a greenhouse in early April (early spring).
You can sow (more) tomatoes in March (early spring). These tomato plants can be put in the greenhouse much later.
Photos of my self grown tomato plants on May 8 (mid spring). In the green tray there are early sown tomato plants, in the black tray later sown plants. There is a clear difference between the 2 groups of tomato plants, see photos above.
- The early plants have thin, yellow stems and small brown spots on the leaves. And there are flowers on the plants.
- The late plants have thick green stems, green leaves and no flowers yet.
- All plants have approximately the same height.
- When sowing tomatoes too early, it can happen that the plants grow slowly and the leaves and stems get yellow. Due to low temperatures in a cold greenhouse.
- Sowing tomatoes at a later date is better.
My experience: yellow leaves and stems turn into green ones within a few weeks after planting in the garden soil.
E) Putting tomato plants in the garden soil
Tomato plants do not grow upright by them selves; they “crawl” over the soil. Most times a tomato plant is led upward. Put a (bamboo) stick in the garden soil next to the plant. Fasten the stem of the plant to this stick using (plastic) strips or a piece of rope. Or let the plant grow along a vertical hanging rope.
You can remove the lower leaves and put the plant extra deep in the garden soil. That is okay. Tomato plants can handle that. Extra roots grow at the stem that is in the soil. Two ways of planting deep;
Remove the top of the plant above the 3rd or 4th group of flowers (flower cluster). Then all sun energy is used for growing and ripening tomatoes in the 3 or 4 bunches (groups).
Water the plants sufficiently. Water on the soil around the plants. Don’t pour or spray water on the leaves.
Break off or cut off leaves during plant growth. Start removing leaves at the lower side of the plant. When the tomatoes are big, the plant does not need many leaves anymore. Also remove leaves with brown spots. Or cut off the parts of the leaves with brown spots.
Tomatoes that grow in a (big) allotment garden, can get the plant disease “Phytophtora”. On the leaves, the stem and the fruits of the tomato plant, dark brown spots appear. The tomatoes start rotting. Much info about this plant disease on the internet. By cutting off the leaves with brown spots you can delay or retard (or prevent) the attack by Phytophthora.
F)# Roof over the plants or in the open air
In a big allotment garden, tomato plants can suffer from the plant disease Phytophtora (Tomato Blight). Suffering from this disease, there are brown spots on the leaves, the stem of the plant gets dark brown, and the tomatoes get dark spots and start rotting.
Tomato plants get Phytophthora when the leaves are wet very often and for several hours. So when water drops lay on or hang at the leaves. This can be pouring water, rainwater or condensed water.
F1) Roof over the plants
F1a) Roof with closed sides
When tomato plants (growing in an alloment garden) are not wet by rain, there is less risk of attack by Phytophthora.
In my allotment garden, tomato plants are under this roof. Before raining, one can fix plastic foil at all 4 sides of the roof. The side foil stops slanting torrential rain (///). At dry weather the side foil is folded down. See photos above of 2017.
Right under the roof there is plastic foil. Dew drops falling from the lower side of the roof fall on this foil and not on the tomato plants.
F1a) Roof with open sides
Tomato plants under a curved or a flat roof in my backyard garden. Sides are open.
At slanting rain, the lower leaves and lower tomatoes get wet. And mud splashes on the lower fruits. My experience: in a closed garden both events do not give brown spots or rotting tomatoes.
You can put a layer of straw on the garden soil to reduce the mud splashing.
Under a curved or flat roof, drops of condensed water fall from the lower side of the roof on the (top) leaves.
These water drops cause brown spots on some leaves. Cut off the leaves with brown spots. Or remove (cut off) the parts of the leaves with brown spots. This stops or retards the attack by Phytophthora. The stems and tomatoes do not get brown spots then.
Info about tomato plants and roofs in 7) Roof over sweet peppers or tomatoes .
F2) In the open air
In a closed (backyard) garden you can grow tomatoes in the open air, so without a roof over them. “Moneymaker” is a good species for this growing.
Due to much rain falling on, a few tomatoes can get cracks. Mostly the top fruits.
F2a) Good tomato growth in the open air (few leaves)
Below there is info about good tomato growth in the open air. Thanks to good weather and many leaves removed.
F2b) Bad tomato growth in the open air (many leaves)
Below info about bad tomato growth in the open air in my garden. This is due to cold weather and too few leaves removed during growth.
Date October 3. So 2 days and 2 cold nights later. The tomato plants have dark brown stems. Many tomatoes have brown spots due to Phytophthora. On the same day some tomatoes on twig have been picked……
….. and laid in a washing-up bowl on moist kitchen paper, under plastic foil. The twigs are put in a small beaker with water.
Three days later the tomatoes are rot and mouldy.
Conclusion: In a closed (backyard) garden you can grow tomatoes in the free air. Harvest all tomatoes, even unripe ones, before late summer (end of September). Break off (or cut off) many leaves during the tomato growth. You may end up with zero leaves in late summer.
F3) Cut tomato stem, white or brown
When you cut the stem of a tomato plant, you can see white material or a brown ring. Maybe a stem with all white is from a healty plant. And perhaps a brown ring means Phytophtora.
Nothing found on the internet about this topic yet.