At the outset, we would like to point out that the following guide is not a definitive solution to problems with sowing tomatoes, nor is it a textbook, it was created on the basis of our many years of experience, and we know that if you follow it, you will surely be successful! After purchasing seeds, we must prepare for their proper cultivation. For this purpose, in a garden store, we buy:
- number of plastic seeding trays per 102 holes or one size smaller according to the number of seeds
- seedling substrate
- nonwoven fabric for covering plants (in m2) - the amount depending on the surface to be covered
Depending on the place of cultivation (for cover or into the ground), we usually start production 6 to 8 weeks before the planned permanent planting, i.e. the seeds must be sown earlier. The earlier we start the production of seedlings, the longer it will take - it is related to the length of the day stimulating plant development. The following deadlines can be safely accepted:
- Under cover: around February 10
- To the ground: approx. March 15
It is best to germinate the seeds spread on moist lignin in a container, e.g. from cottage cheese, and cover with foil or a saucer to reduce evaporation. The seeds can be seasoned with Grevit 200SL or Biosept 33SL before the seedlings go down.
After 4-5 days at a temperature of about 23-26 degrees (the lower the temperature, the later germination) sprouts begin to appear - now each seed needs to be transferred to the substrate with tweezers (fill the tray with seedling medium, water, knead in each hole, spread the seeds one in each hole and cover with the substrate again, knead again and sprinkle lightly with water, so that it is moist but not dripping! Cover with transparent foil to reduce evaporation. After about 3 days, the first emergence appears.
Now we are starting the care. We take off the foil. Plants must grow with good access to light, otherwise they will stretch out, will be light green and rickety and will not be a good planting material - so we put a tray (we can cut it into sections so that they fit well on the window sills).
We take care of the substrate moisture - never pour (flood) the plants, because they can start to get sick (starting from the black leg) and try not to pour them over the leaves, because tomatoes do not like it throughout the growing season. For the same reason, tomatoes usually turn out badly in wet summers. At the time of production - the plant spreads two proper leaves (first we have thin cotyledons) - by slightly kneading the cup from the bottom, pull the plant out so as not to damage the roots.
We put such seedlings into prepared rings (made of thick foil or bought in a garden store) with a diameter of 8-10 cm, or pots in a prepared seedling substrate (compacted so that there are no air spaces). We make a deep hole into which we put the seedling as deep as possible - right up to the cotyledons - this will temporarily limit the growth of the plant, because it will produce roots from the entire recessed part of the stem, but thanks to this it will prepare for strong growth and fruiting in the future.
Now we take care of the light and sufficient humidity. After quilting, we keep the temperature around 20-23 degrees for 2 days, then lower it to 15-18 degrees. As seedlings grow, the so-called "Wolves" (beginnings of new shoots). If we didn't remove them, the tomato would look like a Christmas tree with very little and little fruit. If, in principle, we lead the plant to, for example, 2-3 shoots, we only bring them out after planting them to a permanent place, and at this stage we gently remove them with a nail.
We're setting up the plants! Necessarily when the leaves begin to touch. If we do not do this, the tomatoes will stretch out, they will be weak, and they will not grow well and bear fruit in the future. Remembering this rule, we take care of the seedling until it is planted in the ground. The planting of the first cluster depends primarily on the seedlings we produce.
The first flower cluster appears after the sixth leaf in the seedling, and if it is low, stocky, and not pulled out, the first fruit cluster is literally lying on the ground.
We leave the plant after May 15 (as a rule, with exceptions, of course, the last frosts most often occur in Poland, so we closely follow weather forecasts!) Before planting the plant, we must temper it - lower the temperature, limit watering, expose it to sunny warm days for a few hours with wind protection, for several days. When the weather stabilizes, we plant it permanently, taking it out of the rings or pots.
An important detail here - non-woven fabric! We have it at hand and even if the forecasts do not predict frost, and we feel the crisp, cool air in the evening, we wrap the tomatoes like a quilt. Tomatoes stop vegetation at +4 temperature, and die at temperatures below zero.
Further cultivation is cleaning plants from wolves. If we want to lead to more than 1 shoot, we lead him out of the left wolf. Here, we can bring out an additional shoot at different heights, depending on the expected effect, the shoot brought out at the bottom of the stem will provide us with fruit quite early, for example in the middle of the stem will bear fruit later. The leaves on the main shoot are removed when they no longer fulfill their functions - they begin to die or become ill. With strong foliage of the plant, healthy leaves can be x-rayed (i.e. removed) in order to expose the bunch and to better illuminate it. As a rule, the leaf removal procedure is performed on a cluster on which quite large fruits are already developed. In the ground, due to the limited growing season, we need to top the high-growing tomatoes - i.e. cut the stem above the leaf over the last bunch. We also top the side shoots at the same time. We do it in mid-August. The stalked plants will not work for further growth, but for feeding the previously set fruit. Before the anticipated frosts (not only the forecasts, but also our feelings), we pick the fruit to ripen at home. We can leave small fruits - if they survive the cold, they may still grow up.
When it comes to the protection and fertilization of plants, due to the length of the topic, we refer to numerous studies available on the Internet.
How to get the biggest fruit possible?
To obtain record fruit specimens weighing 1 kg or even more, you need to regulate the number of buds on the cluster to one or two. If you want to have even fruit weighing about 300-400 g, leave 4-5 fruit in the case of large-fruited varieties. Plants yield well on each cluster if they are fed for each new cluster. Depending on your preferences, you can use natural fertilizer, such as manure, and for direct feeding - liquid manure. You can also use ready-made preparations offered by companies. Both natural and mineral fertilizers are available here. Below are some examples of preparations worth considering, although we would like to draw your attention to one fact: the offers of companies often change, so the products and sometimes their composition may change over time, so it is worth simply looking for the right product in terms of composition. After ad hoc supply, the effect of the fertilizer on the plants should be monitored and the deficiencies should be supplemented with appropriate preparations if necessary.
BIO-VEGETAL GUANO by NORDLAND GUANO from seabird guano, forest humus and microelements. Works up to 3 months. (Composition: N 9%, P 6%, K 4%, Mg + trace elements).
COMP BIO Organic sheep wool fertilizer, effective for 5 months. About 150-170 grams / m2 for tomato cultivation (Composition: N 5%, P 4%, K 6%).
EVERRIS HORTIFOSCA for tomatoes . (Composition: N 10%, P 8%, K 22% + microelements).
OSMOCOTE PLUS (Composition: N 15%, P 10%, K 12% + microelements)
In case there are watery spots on the fruit buds from the bottom (in the place after the flower) - the so-called dry top rot (and this may occur with different cultivars, under unfavorable conditions, such as drought), spray the plants with a solution of calcium nitrate, as this proves that the plant has too little calcium and is not able to absorb it through the system root - we deliver it by foliar application and we try to maintain good soil moisture. Instructions for use are on the packages. Dwarf / bushy plants intended for pots, we do not clean of wolves, we can use translucent cutting. Tomatoes under cover require pollination - you can use Betokson (you can not spray whole plants so as not to damage the growth cone, only the cluster itself - chemical method, or shake the plants or "snap" at each flowering cluster. - 10 (moist pollen does not flake off) and before the heat because pollen does not sprout at high temperatures.
The best period when we need to enter preventive protection is the message (after the main issue of the journal at the end of the weather report) for allergy sufferers about the increase in the concentration of fungal spores in the air - it means that fungal diseases will begin. Protection after noticing the first signs of disease will do little, the plants will be weakened and will require more protection to extend the harvest. The right time to start protection allows the plants to remain healthy until frost.
When it comes to protection against potato blight, you can use measures such as Dithane or Bravo . There are small packages available in stores.
It is best to spray alternately with one agent, another time with another agent and according to dosage indications on the package. In the ground, treatments are unfortunately performed more often than under covers. In a tent, at low risk, you can spray once every 2-3 weeks. In case of high risk, spraying is performed more often - once every 2 weeks.
You need to take care of the proper "hygiene" of the tomato - do not plant it too densely, ventilate often, remove unbound, faded flowers, remove leaves that are already beginning to become ill or die, while keeping the soil moist.
In order to eliminate weeds, you can buy black agro fleece and plant the seedlings in incisions. The substrate will benefit from this, because it will retain moisture longer and the structure will slightly change to less dense.
Of course, this is not all the advice, because practically every gardener can boast of his own methods, developed over the years. The only thing we can do is wish you a good harvest and a lot of perseverance in achieving your goals! If you have any questions, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org