Tomatoes are the stars of the vegetable garden, whether in the ground or on a balcony. We never tire of their fragrant and juicy flesh. However, they sometimes give us a hard time and require special attention.
Find out how to successfully care for tomatoes!
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Fresh, rich soil and plenty of sun - that's what tomatoes need to thrive. Watering must therefore be regular but not excessive, at the risk of creating an excessively humid environment favorable to disease. To keep the soil cool and to space the waterings a bit in summer, consider spreading a layer of mulch.
Tomatoes will appreciate a mulch made up of compost, leaves and herbs from the garden. You can also opt for BRF combined with a little grass or any other plant material that enriches the soil with nitrogen.
The most important thing in watering is to water well at the base and not to touch the foliage. Sensitive to diseases, the tomato is afraid of wet foliage which promotes the appearance of fungi.
Tomatoes are greedy plants that require a soil rich in nutrients. Ideally, add fertilizer before growing tomatoes.
You can, for example, sow green manures such as phacelia, red clover or alfalfa. Sown between February and April, you can pull them up in May-June, when planting your tomatoes. During cultivation, green manures provide nutrients to the soil, improve its structure and slow down the leaching of nitrogen. Once pulled up, they serve as mulch at the base of your tomatoes, they are definitely all good!
Also consider adding compost in the fall before growing and cover your soil with mulch all winter long, before sowing green manure.
To avoid late blight, it is advisable to plant basil or Chinese chives near the tomato. Conversely, keep the potato away, which is very prone to late blight which it catches earlier and which it transmits to the tomato. Flowers also help our favorite nightshade! Marigold, zinnia, Indian roses or French marigolds help keep nematodes, white flies and aphids away. The last two flowers are also effective in controlling early blight of tomatoes.
Tomatoes also do great service! It repels flea beetles, pimples, cabbage maggots, cruciferous moth, carrot maggots ... This is why we plant them nearby or apply tomato pruning residue to the root of cabbages.
On the other hand, the roots of tomatoes are said to pose a problem for the development of fennel, leek, pepper, carrot, lettuce, escarole and melon. A multitude of associations that are good to verify by doing tests at home.
Cut the tomatoes
There are two schools: the pros and the cons.
- The pros believe that pruning promotes faster fruiting and limits susceptibility to late blight.
- Cons argue that the foliage increases photosynthesis and protects from the sun.
If you start pruning a month after planting systematically remove gourmets, those little shoots that appear in the axils of the stems and form secondary stems that exhaust the plant. In cool regions, it is advisable to stop the main stem leaving 4-5 bunches of flowers below.
At the end of summer, you can also remove leaves so that the sun's rays reach the fruits and make them ripen faster. To prune them more easily, consider staking them!
- Learn more about pruning tomatoes
Sheltered in a greenhouse
Growing tomatoes in greenhouses is a good lever to prevent disease. In fact, when dry, tomatoes avoid morning dew and precipitation. You can more easily control watering by keeping the substrate cool and the foliage protected from moisture. You will sow in February and plant in April. In short, a month earlier than in the ground and the same goes for the harvest, the period of which is then extended! However, you will probably need to water more often and also add fertilizer regularly. Remember to ventilate your greenhouse regularly so as not to see other pests appear.
Collect your own seeds
The best way to make your tomato plants more vigorous is to harvest your own seeds each year. It's very simple, you just need to collect the seeds inside the fruit.
- Then place them in a container filled with water for 2-3 days so that the pulp comes off the seed well.
- Then wipe them off and let them dry before slipping them into an envelope that you label.
Please note that seeds are only harvested from non-hybrid F1 plants (a hybrid plant is a plant resulting from a forced crossing). Over the years, your plants will become more and more adapted to your environment.
- Read also: all our subjects devoted to tomatoes