Gardening · Veggies

To-ma-to – Third and a half time lucky !!!

Tomatoes, Beautiful Big Red Ripe Tomatoes   – This is what I had in mind when I bought my first tomato plant.

Tomatoes are native to South America but are now grown all over the world with thousands of cultivars. They belong to the same family as bell peppers and eggplants.

It can be eaten raw or saute’d/cooked in curries, soups, salads etc. It has now become an integral part of Indian cooking. Almost any curry you take today, tomato is an ingredient providing the sour taste. But that is not the case always – South Indians and Lucknawi cuisine very much use tamarind and curd for the sour taste even now.

Now, let’s see how I got lucky after three and a half times finally 🙄

Fall 2015 :

  • I drowned my first tomato plant 😳 . The 3 gallon pot was a self-watering one, So I never drilled any holes. Also, that balcony did not get much sunlight , a very essential thing for growing tomatoes. Point duly noted.

Summer 2016 :

I bought a Patio tomato plant along with many other plants/seeds from Home Depot, but lost it to some disease. Some part of me tells me it was due to the raw egg I left to rot in the pot after reading an online article. I’m never doing that..ever again.

Spring 2017 :

Quick on my feet did I go to Home Depot ( My one stop for most of my plants and seeds) and gifted myself a tomato seedling. This time I got a Hybrid Determinate variety ( disease resistant – something I hoped will survive me ).

Hybrids are plants that are cross-pollinated naturally ( albeit intentionally ) from plants that are different in variety (but same family) to produce an offspring that has the best traits of both parent plants. This has been done by farmers for centuries to get a more disease resistant and higher yield producing plants. This should not be confused with GMO plants, where they are modified at the gene level , either bringing together genes from different plants of same family or even genes from two different kingdoms like the infamous BT varieties ( where a bacteria gene and a plant gene were brought together ). 

  • I didn’t cage it as I thought a 3-4 ft plant will not need one
  • Used a 2 gallon pot for it.
  • Mixed soil with crushed eggshells, banana peels, Epsom salt and little fish fertilizer
  • Watered regularly in the morning without fail

And, it grew like topsy. I think its more of a sprawling variety if I had let it be on its own. Slowly, flowers started.

TomatoPlantLoadedWithFlowers
Tomato Plant Loaded With Flowers

May 2017 : The first tomato 😀

First Tomato of the Season 2017
First Tomato of the Season 2017

And then many more. I had to tie the plant up as the fruits weighed down the branches. I was soo happy to see so many tomatoes on “my” tomato plant and that it had survived so far. It grew about 3 – 3.5 ft.

Plant Laden with Tomatoes
Plant Laden with Tomatoes

July 2017 : Then, Tragedy struck 😣 The pot had fallen due to heavy winds breaking the main stem at its base Nooo…Not Again!  I cursed myself as I had jinxed my well-growing tomato plant. My heart got ripped a third time   I had to cut it off and harvest the unripe tomatoes.

Fallen & Cut Tomato Plant
July 1 : Fallen & Cut Tomato Plant
Tomatoes Harvest
July 1 : Tomatoes Harvest

Then, we moved. But, I continued to care for my plant.

  • Moved it to a bigger pot; added fertilizers to soil
  • Installed a cage
  • Tied the cage to railings; No more toppling
  • Watered regularly

07-Oct-2017 : One of the first fully ripened on the vine tomato at last 😀 This one grew so big.

FirstRipeOntheVineTomato

Oct 25 2017 : First Major Harvest ! Proud Mama 😍

FirstMajorHarvest
First Major Harvest

Nov 2017 : And, this is what I have today  🙂 Its loaded with ripe tomatoes on the plant. And, still flowering, though only a couple are turning to fruit. I’m waiting to see if it will survive our mild winters.

 

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Tips : 

  • Prepare Soil by mixing in egg shells, Epsom salt, slow release balanced organic fertilizer
  • Water regularly preferably in the morning; Do not overwater
  • Do not pour water on the leaves, it might lead to fungus on your plant
  • Prune if you need to, but not really necessary
  • Feed regularly
  • Once the plant grows big enough, you can cut some of the bottom branches so that water doesn’t affect the plant
  • Placing a ripe red fruit amongst unripe fruits helps ripen them
  • Don’t tug at your tomatoes while harvesting. Use shears/scissors.
  • You could prune for lateral growth. And, remove suckers too. I didn’t do either for mine. And, contrary to popular belief, I have tomatoes on the suckers too
  • Hand Pollination – If your flowers don’t turn to fruit, try hand pollinating them. All you need to do is just tap the flowers lightly as they have both male and female parts int the same flower.

Tomato Problems : 

  • Cat Facing : This happens when there are sudden changes in temperatures when the flower is forming resulting in a deformed tomato. Such tomatoes are edible , just that they are deformed in looks. I had a couple this year
    • Tomato_catface
  • Leaf Yellowing : Under watering or not enough Sunlight
  • Blossom Drop : Underwatering / Extreme changes in weather
  • Blossom End Rot :
    • Not enough Calcium in the soil. You could crush some Ca tablets and add it while watering. Mix egg shells in the soil while planting
    • Plant is not able to absorb Calcium from the soil.
  • Cracked Tomatoes : Underwatering/ Irregular watering
  • Aphids :
    • Grow Mint and Marigolds around your tomato plant.
    • Spray diluted soap water on the aphids. It kills them.

Please feel free to ask my any questions you might have and leave your name and insights in the comments section.

Get out , get your hands dirty and let me know how yours turned out !!

 

 

 

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