The Red Princess!
Tomatoes are the darlings of the Grower community. We are captivated by the beauty of this red fruit. They come in all shapes and sizes and are easy to pair with most meals. From your typical salads to pasta sauces, they are so dynamic you can eat it as a snack! Nothing beats munching on a big one while trekking in Sagada!
We are blessed to be in a tropical country, where both sunlight and water are abundant. I remember seeing wild cherry tomatoes when I visited Bomod-Ok falls. I realized that Sunlight and Water are key when growing tomatoes. My brain couldn’t stop thinking of how great it would be to have tomatoes picked fresh from my own front yard.
Heirloom Seeds are pricey…
Understanding seed types is very important. It is never recommended to grow from seeds harvested off grocery-bought tomatoes. Believe me, I’ve tried. My plant was only able to bear two fruits. On the 3rd month, the fruits were ravaged by pests. Until now, my plant has yet to bear fruit.
That said, would buying Heirloom seeds be the way to go? Yes. Is it expensive? Definitely. But price becomes relative if I want to get the tastiest and high yielding variety.
What’s the best Growing Medium and location?
Tomatoes still grow best in soil. If your concern is limited space, look at investing in growbags. My growbag only takes less than a fourth of a square foot. I also placed it outside where it gets lots of sunlight, as well as the residual rains brought into our monsoon favored country. The growbag is near an awning where I can bring it in, if the weather isn’t cooperating. Consider Sun and Wind path when you can.
Having a greenhouse trumps all. The foremost advantage is that you minimize pest attacks on your crops. Seeing fruits ravaged by mealybugs and fruit worms takes it out of you. Another advantage is being able to control temperature. It will be a such a breeze! Just don’t forget to Prune, Water and Feed your crops yeah?
We also have tomatoes grown hydroponically and indoors. While this medium is viable, we live in a country where Sunlight and Water is abundant. Maximize our God-given location! If you already have a hydroponic system, look at methods where you can bring your tomatoes in it. A drip system might be best medium.
When you are able to combine these three, hats off to you!
What to feed my plants?
Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Need I say more? Whether this be done organically or by way of nutrient solutions, your tomatoes need it. If you go the nutrient solution route, make sure to purchase a formula specific for your tomatoes. Follow instructions, because overfeeding is as bad as underfeeding. Consider that plants cultured in growbags need to be fed regularly.
Lastly, use supplements like Iron or Calcium to help your crops! Feed it the best, so you can be fed the best as well.
When do I harvest?
This is tricky as maturity depends on the type of tomato you have decided to grow. Here’s a rule of thumb:
- Early season variety takes about 60 days to mature. Think cherry tomatoes.
- Mid-season ones may need 75 days. These would be your grocery variety plum tomatoes.
- And lastly, late season varieties take about 90 days. Hello Beefsteak tomatoes!
As mentioned, harvesting can be tricky. Not all tomatoes are red. We have local tomatoes that taste ripe when green. Harvesting by size, again, is dependent on knowing what variety you planted.
To save you some level of frustration, write that down. When your plant just bears green fruit, or are smaller than expected, do not pull your hair! Know your seed variety. Now get that pen and paper and write it down dear Grower!
Research, research, research.
There are a lot of things we need to consider, but that’s for a different time. That said, do the research not covered here. Read and educate yourself on the variety you want to grow. Take in as much content as you can, and have fun while doing it! Happy growing!
Credits to the owners of the pictures used in this article.