Growing Tomatoes – Different Ways to Grow Tomatoes
How to Grow Tomato Plants
Tomatoes can be grown under glass or outdoors in sheltered, sunny places. There are a great many varieties, some of which, such as Outdoor Girl and Harbinger, are specially suitable for outdoor cultivation. Most tomatoes are restricted to a single stem but the so-called ‘bush’ varieties are allowed to grow naturally without removal of side shoots and they then produce quite low, freely-branched plants which need little or no support. They, too, are popular for outdoor cultivation. One of the most popular bush tomatoes is Amateur.
Greenhouse Cultivation for Growing Tomatoes
For growing under glass, the seeds are sown in January, February or March, in a temperature of 16 to 18°C (60 to 65° F). The are pricked off 2in. apart as soon as possible into boxes filled with John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost and are potted individually in similar , in 3-in. pots as soon as the leaves touch in the boxes. They are then potted into 9-in. pots or boxes filled with John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost or with good, well-drained loamy . Another method is to plant in beds of good loamy soil, spacing the plants 18in. apart in rows 3ft. apart. Each plant is restricted to one stem by removing all the side shoots as they appear. The main stem is tied to a cane or supported by soft string secured to the rafters in the greenhouse or to wire strained below the rafters. The growing point of each plant is pinched out when it reaches the glass.
The plants should be watered moderately at first and more freely as they become established and grow quickly. They can be fed once a week with fertiliser — liquid or dry — from the time the first fruits are set. A temperature of 13° C (55° F) should be maintained as a minimum, but it can rise to 24° C (75° F) or more with sun heat.
Outdoor Cultivation for Growing Tomatoes
As far as outdoor cultivation is concerned, the seeds are sown in late March or April as for indoor cultivation, and the seedlings are treated in the same way, but they are removed to a frame in early May and hardened-off for planting outdoors at the end of May or in early June. The plants are set out 18in. apart in rows which are 2-1/2ft. apart in a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny, sheltered position. Again each plant is kept to a single stem and this tied to a cane or stake. The growing tip is pinched out when four flower trusses have been produced. The fruit is picked as soon as it starts to colour and ripening can then be completed indoors. During dry weather they should be given plenty of water.
Ring Culture of Tomato Plants
There is another method of cultivation which has become popular for growing tomatoes in recent years, under glass and outdoors and that is the ring culture system. Its chief advantages are that the amount of soil needed is relatively small and that there is less risk of soil infections.
The general principles of the system are that the feeding roots are largely limited to a suitable compost placed in the containers, while the water supply is mainly obtained by the lower roots from a moist bed of some sterile material (known as the aggregate) such as sand, ashes or peat on which the containers stand. The chief drawback is that unless this bed is kept consistently moist failure can very easily occur. The treatment to final potting is as already described, but at this stage the plants are then placed in special bottomless rings, usually of whalehide (bituminised paper) filled with John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost, and stood on a 6in. layer of gravel or old, sifted cinders. After the first few weeks water is given freely to the gravel or cinders only and liquid food is applied once a week to the soil in the rings. The plants are trained and stopped in the ordinary way.
Varieties. These include Ailsa Craig, Harbinger, Best of All, Moneymaker, Ware Cross (for greenhouse cultivation only), Eurocross, The Amateur and Golden Amateur (bush varieties) and Outdoor Girl (for outdoor cultivation only).