What do tomatoes need to grow

Tomatoes like it warm. They belong to the nightshade family, are real sun children and need a lot of warmth to germinate and grow. If you do not want to buy ready-made young plants, grow them on the windowsill or in the greenhouse at 18-20 ° C from the beginning of March to the beginning of April. For indoor cultivation, seed trays with a cover or heatable mini greenhouses are inexpensive. Prick the seedlings one by one in small pots as soon as they have developed the first leaves.

Do not plant too early

Warm April weather tempts you to plant out, but it is better to follow tradition. The best planting date is after the ice saints, from mid-May. Harden the plants beforehand by placing them outside in a sheltered place on warm days.
  • You can plant tomatoes in the ground up to the lower leaf base, then additional roots will form at the base of the stem. Plant with a row spacing of 70-80 cm and 50 cm in a row. Bush tomatoes can stand a little closer.
  • To protect young plants from the cold, there are traditional English cloches or "Victorian Bells" in modern plastic or simple tomato caps.

Bars and supports

Almost all tomatoes need a support to tie up. Spiral rods made of galvanized metal or bamboo rods, depending on the height of growth 1.5-2m high, are suitable. When you plant them, stick them firmly in the ground next to the young tomatoes, and later tie the growing stems loosely at intervals of 20-30 cm.
  • If you tie three or four sticks together at the top like tent posts, similar to pole beans, you get a particularly stable construction. In addition, this "tipi" looks pretty, especially when you plant the tomatoes in the ornamental garden.
  • Bush tomato varieties such as 'Balkonstar', 'Patio' and 'Tiny Tim' grow low, bushy and compact. You don't need any support. But if the shoots bend to the ground under the weight of the fruit, they should be tied to short sticks.

Water supplies

Tomatoes need a lot of water on a regular basis. For an even supply, dig a few small flower pots around the plants and fill them with water every day. It slowly seeps through the drainage hole to the roots. You can also cut off the bottom of a 2-1 plastic bottle and stick it neck down as a reservoir of water. Fill them up every day.
  • During the growing season of the plant and fruit, tomato plants need fertilizers on a regular basis. Dissolved mineral liquid fertilizers have proven themselves here. Nettle and comfrey manure and cattle manure dissolved in water are also recommended.

Mulching is beneficial

Due to the large spacing between the plants, there is a lot of free space between tomatoes. Cover this with mulch material such as lawn clippings, mown green manure plants or bark humus with a handful of horn shavings mixed in. The mulch layer can be up to 5 cm thick. This suppresses the germination of weeds and reduces water evaporation.

Mixed cultivation of tomatoes

  • Good tomato neighbors are beans, cabbage, leeks, parsley, radishes, celery and onions.
  • Tomatoes do poorly next to peas, fennel, cucumber and beetroot.
  • Plant marigolds next to the tomatoes, this will reduce the whitefly infestation.

Remove stinging instincts

Check your tomato plants regularly for small side shoots that appear in the leaf axils. When these so-called stingy shoots develop, the tomato uses a large part of its power to develop the shoot and leaf mass and sets less fruit. Break these shoots out early. This technique is called pruning.
  • But leave the axillary shoots on bush tomatoes, because fruits are also formed on them.

Prevent late blight and brown rot

One of the gardener's worst nightmares includes almost ripe tomato fruits that suddenly develop large, brown spots. The blame is the late blight caused by a fungus. It can appear earlier on the leaves. Infestation of the fruit is particularly common in late summer, when the fungus finds optimal conditions in rainy, warm weather.
  • In the meantime, many gardeners stretch plastic roofs on high poles over their tomatoes as soon as periods of rain appear. Place such sheeting high enough so that air can circulate well.
  • Air-permeable tomato hoods are mainly pulled over the plants in order to improve the ripening of the fruit in cool weather. They can also offer some protection against the pathogen, but in the worst case, the fungus is favored by the warm, humid microclimate under the hood.
  • When buying seeds or plants, pay attention to varieties that are as resistant as possible, such as 'Phantasia' or 'Philovita'. Grafted tomato plants, which are being offered more and more frequently, are quite robust against various diseases.
  • Gardeners used to try more often with two fine copper wires that they pierced crosswise through the base of the stem. Although not scientifically proven, copper could dissolve in the sap, which protects against the fungi. For a long time it was said that you could easily grow tomatoes in the same place every year. It is now known that the fungus can survive in the ground for a long time. You should therefore change the bed every year.
Never plant potatoes before, after, or near tomatoes. The same pathogen causes late blight in them and can persist in tubers that remain in the ground.

Special fertilizer for healthy fruits

When the tomatoes start to bloom, you can dissolve 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt in 51 water and water the plants with it. Magnesium and sulfur contained in Epsom salt promote healthy fruits.

Harvest tomato seeds yourself

Especially older varieties that you want to preserve can be propagated well using seeds you harvest yourself. In contrast, modern F 1 varieties are not suitable. First you put some water and the pulp of a ripe tomato in a bowl. After a short time, a whitish film of bacteria will appear on the surface. After about 36 hours, add a little more water and stir everything. The fermentation separates the seeds from the pulp and sinks to the bottom. Then strain the pulp, rinse the seeds clean under cold water, and let them dry on paper towels.