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Tomatoes used to be classified under the botanical name Lycopersicon esculentum. Research has provided evidence showing that tomatoes should be classified under the genus Solanum, which is where they now reside as Solanum lycopersicum. Tomatoes are generally thought to be synonymous with Italian cooking, however, tomatoes are not native to the Mediterranean at all. Tomatoes are native to South America and did not reach Italy until the 1550's, which causes one to wonder what Italians ate before the arrival of this South American fruit. (Yes, tomatoes are technically fruits).
When Europeans were first introduced to the tomato, many thought that they were poisonous since they are in the deadly nightshade family. Unripe tomatoes have compounds in them that will cause an upset stomach. Luckily these compounds can be neutralized via a heat treatment, which is why eating fried green tomatoes will not cause any discomfort.
Delicious, flavorful, meaty fruits have smooth shoulders, not as rough and ridgy as Beefsteak, and the blossom end scars are smaller. Prolific, vigorous plants produce huge, luscious, red fruits averaging 17 ounces that are ready to harvest in about 80 days after setting plants out in the garden.
|Plant Types:||Annual, Fruit, Vegetable|
|Height:||2 feet 1 inch to 5 feet|
|Width:||1 foot 6 inches to 4 feet|
|Bloom Seasons:||Mid spring, Late spring, Early summer, Mid summer, Late summer|
|Special Features:||Edible, Not North American native|
|Shape:||Irregular or sprawling|
|Fertilizer:||Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Tomato Plant Food|
|Want to know where Tomato will thrive in your house or garden? The EasyBloom Plant Sensor will give you a plant's-eye view of your environment to measure soil, sunlight, temperature and humidity.||
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Sow seeds 6 weeks before the last projected frost as spring arrives. Seeds tend to germinate best when the temperatures are kept between 75°F and 85°F. Tomatoes can be transplanted as well, so sowing seeds in pots with rich potting soil that can be moved during times of frost or extreme cold to a milder location is also recommended. These pot-grown tomatoes can be transplanted into the ground outside 1 to 2 weeks after the average last frost date in your region.
Plant more mature transplants so that a minimum of 2" of topsoil covers the main stem. This will promote root initiation along the main stem and will provide better support from wind.
Pick ripe tomatoes when they are full size, firm and fully colored. You can pick the fruit before they are fully colored, but this may result in a less satisfactory taste as the plants have had less time to pack the fruits with sugar and other desirable compounds. Tomatoes that are picked before they are fully ripe will ripen best when subjected to temperatures hovering around 75°F. Temperatures above 90°F will cause the fruits to not color properly and have soft, undesirable flesh.
Check the plants once per week for fruit ripeness. Be sure to discard any tomatoes that are over-ripe or rotting on the vine.
Tomatoes should be stored at around 55°F. Although they can be stored for longer in a refrigerator, the taste of the tomato will suffer as a result.
In hot climates small, fragile seedlings should be given some shade to protect them from sunburn. Although tomatoes require a minimum 6 hours of full sun for a hearty fruit set, it is recommended that they receive as much sun as possible to promote better flavor (generally 8 hours).
Caging or trellising is recommended for indeterminate tomatoes (these are tomatoes that continuously grow and are not bushy). This is to promote the plants to grow vertically, which promotes higher crop yields and better spacing abilities.
Small yellow blooms should start appearing very soon with tomatoes. If these fail to appear or start dropping off with out forming fruit you may have an excess of nitrogen in the soil. You can flush the soil at this point to wash out some of the soluble nitrogen salts or use a fertilizer specific to tomatoes or with an emphasis on phosphorus and potassium. ie.. 2-10-10 or 0-5-2 water soluble fertilizer should work great.
When in bloom if your plants are indoors (greenhouse) or if you have a lack of pollinators (Bees!) in your area you may need to hand pollinate with a small paintbrush or similar. Just dab one flower center and move to the next gently brushing its center and just keep doing this for as many flowers as you want.
Does best with soils high in organic matter. Very important to have well-drained soils, but would be best to have some level of water retention. Consistently moist soils help to prevent blossom end rot as this will provide the roots with the ability to better absorb nutrients. Mulching is a great way to promote moisture retention in the soil.
Provide fertilizer to the soil before propagating the tomato. Directly after germination of the seeds or while the plants are still seedlings fertilize with diluted liquid fertilizer.
Blossom end rot is caused by calcium deficiency during fruit development. Recent research suggests that blossom end rot in tomatoes may be exacerbated by a deficiency with the essential element molybdenum and some would argue manganese as well. Luckily, both those elements are needed in such small quantities they rarely are a problem. Providing a complete liquid fertilizer right after the fruit has set generally will provide enough soil nutrition to promote healthier fruit development. Use a 5-5-5 fertilizer at the onset of the fruit. Fertilize once per month as the fruits develop on the plant.
Your goal when pruning your tomato plant is to maximize yields of fruit and ensure the health of your plant. One technique to prune is to wait for your first flower sets on the plant and then to cut back all stems and leaves beneath the blooms. This will ensure that nutrients are going to the newly forming fruit rather than shaded stems and leaves beneath the plant. This will also increase air circulation in the plant and reduce any chance of mildew or rot. Your goal is to encourage the main stem to remain strong and do its job of nourishing and supporting its crop. You will also see small shoots or suckers that will grow between a branch and a leaf cluster off the main stem...defintitely cut or snap these back as they will do little in the way of fruit production except dilute the energy of the plant once again into unnecassary foliage production.
Also one should prune the main stem once it has reached the top of its cage or trellis. This ensures energy is going towards ripening existing fruit and won't be leaving you with a huge amount of baseball hard, green fruit at the end of the season!
Other methods people use is removal of all blooms until plant reaches between 12 to 18 inches high to ensure full growth potential of the plant.
Prone to tomato hornworms. Hornworms are green in color and have white diagonal stripes down their sides. They also will have a "horn" on their tail end. These are the larvae of a large moth that lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves. The larval stage of this insect is the one that can cause harm to the plant as they are voracious foliar feeders. They can eat enough leaf material to seriously affect the overall yield of the plants.
Tomatoes are also prone to wilts and the tobacco mosaic virus. Immediately remove any infected leaves.