It’s hard to believe how our colorful lives are gradually becoming dull. Whatever we need is getting delivered to our homes. Schools have gone online… PT (physical training) included! Payments are made online. And, everything is so effortless. Honestly, there isn’t much more left to do.
It might look I'm doing nothing, but in my head, I'm quite busy.
Because of the social isolation, many of us spend time in our homes… mulling over a cup of morning brew to jumpstart our day (to do what exactly? no one knows), staring at lush green lawns (that offer no nutritional value), but still, looking for inspiration there. Oh novel corona, how you’ve changed-our-lives-forever!
But, a quick question -
What if you were sipping - say tea, overlooking your-very-own tiny food garden in your patio or backyard? Now, wouldn’t that be different?! Thinking of how you got hands on to plant the seed, nurtured it, and watched it change and grow – like you created and accomplished something. Truly incredible that, isn’t it?
I started gardening in a small way with the tomatoes, spinach, okra, peaches, figs and pears. In 8 years, I now have a full-fledged garden. ~ Rohit
Rohit, who bought a house that came with garden space, says, “I started gardening in a small way with the tomatoes, spinach, okra, peaches, figs and pears. In 8 years, I now have a full-fledged garden with vegetables like kale, spinach, okra, tomatoes, potatoes, green chillies, eggplant, taro, garlic, assorted beans, green peas, bell peppers, avocado, moringa, butternut squash, ginger and spring onions; a few herbs namely curry leaves, spanish and sweet basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint and aloe vera; and fruits such as apples, pears, figs, plums, peaches, strawberries, papaya, mango, pomegranate meyer lemons and limes."
"You could start with the Tomatoes. Growing a simple vegetable crop to gain a healthy connection to the natural environment, is a good idea. Tomato is the “one-harvest many-crops” type, which means that though you plant one seed or seedling, you’ll still enjoy multiple harvests. I can show you how to do it.”
How to sow tomatoes and the growing seedlings.
First you decide what variety to grow. You could start with the most common variety - Globe Tomato. Now, tomatoes are warm-season annuals that grow best when the soil temperature is at least 55°F (12°C) and the air temperature ranges between 65° and 90°F (18-32°C). They are commonly grown from seedlings. Started indoors. And later, transplanted into the garden.
Growing from seed.
Plant the seed in a small 2 inch plastic cup. Make sure to make holes at the base of the cup for the water to drain from the soil. Tomato seeds are commonly planted indoors as early as 8 to 6 weeks before the average date of the last spring frost. Seeds can be started in a bright window.
Once they germinate, say in about 2 weeks or so transfer them to the ground or a large planter. Be careful not to disturb the roots.
Now, 1 to 3 weeks after the last frost, transplant them into the garden. If an unexpected frost threatens, transplants must be covered and protected. To ensure that, place the seed ½ inch below the soil and 1 inch apart. Water enough to make sure that the soil stays moist at all times. The optimum soil temperature for germinating seed is 86°F (30°C).
Germinating tomato plants from a store-bought tomato.
You can also grow them from a store-bought tomato. I’ll share the method that you need to follow carefully to get an ideal crop. Slice an heirloom or an organic non-GMO tomato as shown. You can always use a regular tomato too.
In a regular 11 or 15 inch planter, mix 3 parts (such as a gallon) garden soil, 3 parts compost, 2 parts builder’s sand. Place a layer of the sliced tomatoes on the soil and cover it with a thin layer of soil just enough to bury it. Water the pot and make sure you keep the soil moist. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to see the germination.
Once the seeds from the tomato germinate transfer them to a separate planter - one germinated plant per planter. Be very careful while replanting as the baby plant is very delicate. Prepare planting beds by adding 2 to 4 inches of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix before transplanting. Turn the soil to at least 12 inches deep before planting.
Tomatoes need a lot of care. Pruning tomatoes are important for their growth. the angular stem as shown in the picture, should be cut so that the plant grows well. These are called suckers as they grow and multiply into a stem and more suckers grow hampering the growth of the crop.
Watering, Caring and Feeding Tomatoes.
Early in the growing season, watering plants daily in the morning. As temperatures increase, you might need to water tomato plants twice a day. Garden tomatoes typically require 1-2 inches of water a week. Water at the base of the stem and avoid wetting leaves.
A good rule of thumb for containers is to water until water runs freely from the bottom or the 10 second rule. If the soil absorbs the water in 10 seconds then the plant need water. If it holds then do not water. Leaves may curl on hot days; this is a way for plants to conserve moisture and is not necessarily a sign of distress. If leaves wilt in the morning, tomatoes need an immediate slow, deep watering.
After first flowers appear. Side dress tomatoes with dilute fish emulsion or fish water or kelp meal every 3 to 4 weeks.
Tomatoes can grow up to 10 feet. Each plant gives around 40 tomatoes during a season if done well. They need to be fertilized at regular intervals.
Cages, 10 to 12 ft stakes, trellis can be used to support tomato plants. Supports will keep leaves and fruits off the ground. The taller the plant the longer it will bear fruit. Tomatoes that sprawl across the ground will be susceptible to disease and insect pests. Stakes can be used to train tomatoes upwards. Staked tomatoes are commonly pruned to one or two main stems (called leaders) which are trained up by tying the stem to the stake with elastic horticultural tape or a simple thick thread.
Planting and Harvesting Time for Tomatoes.
Early season require 40 to 60 days to reach harvest from transplanting.
Midseason would require 60 to 80 days to reach harvest from transplanting.
The late season would be 80 or more days to reach harvest from transplanting.
For a long harvest season plant early, mid-season, and late-season tomatoes at the same time in spring or early summer. You can pick mature green tomatoes and ripen them indoors on the kitchen counter.
Planting Site & Tips.
1. Grow tomatoes in full sun, at least 8 hours of sun each day.
2. Tomatoes require warm, well-drained but moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. Tomatoes will produce earlier in light, sandy soil, but the yield will be greater in a heavy, loamy soil.
3. Prepare planting beds by adding 2 to 4 inches of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix before transplanting. Turn the soil to at least 12 inches deep before planting.
4. Grown tomatoes in full sun. Tomatoes need 6 – 8 hours of sunlight each day.
5. Mulch with straw or aged compost around plants to prevent soil moisture evaporation.
6. There are commonly found diseases in a tomato plant that can be caused by various reasons like lack of water, overwatering, lack of soil, nutrition or over fertilizing, lack of air flow, over pruning or too much of sunlight directly on the tomato. You can google more to find out ways to identify and treat the plant disease.
7. Tomatoes require warm, well-drained but moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. They will produce earlier in light, sandy soil, but the yield will be greater in a heavy, loamy soil. Ideal soil pH ratio is 5.5 to 6.8.
8. Planted in containers tomatoes require the most soil you can provide–a large container–and good drainage.
9. Provide a stake, cage, or trellis for support at planting to avoid the risk of damaging the growing root later on.
10. Move tomatoes in containers indoors if frost threatens or cover them up with a plastic sheet for a short interval of time. Tomatoes can be grown in containers through the winter indoors or in tropical or warm weather places.
Prepare your own food garden.
“What I think is that you should plan it in such a way that over a period, you can prepare your own food garden. First you draw you self-sufficient gardening list of productive varieties that would grow well in your soil. Here are a few companion plants with tomatoes that you can grow. Basil, chives, asparagus, carrots, marigolds, nasturtiums, potatoes, onions, okra and parsley. These plants will repel insects that attack tomatoes. And, bees are the best for pollination. So, I wish you all good luck at gardening and hope your plants grow well”. That's Rohit's advice to all the budding gardeners.
So, get fresh air and allow yourself to be creative with pots and plants. Next time I will tell you how to grow more vegetables. Meanwhile, I’m sharing a video that will give you some idea about the tomato planting method.
Growing Tomatoes from Sowing to Harvest.
Growing your own food is happiness. And eating it at the place where you get it from is heaven! - Nambi, The Farmer.
Yum! Are you ready to take control? Are you one of those who thrives on adventure and freedom? Then, here’s this one for you from Dan Bennett. “One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and package of garden seeds.”
If you wish to get in touch with Rohit, you can either call Rohit / Sharmila or whatsapp them on +1 312 307 2504 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org