A tomato is an ingredient found almost in every kitchen all over the world. A lot of people are consuming this kind of fruit or a vegetable each and every day. Farming of this kind of plants will not only give you vitamins in your homestead but also a steady income when you decide selling it for money.
Tomatoes are generally a source of vitamins A, B and C, they can be consumed when cooked, can also be eaten raw when mixed with onions and other vegetables like cabbages, onions and pepper to make a proper and delicious salad. Also tomatoes can be processed to make tomato sauce like Ketchup and other products.
In today’s article I will be taking you in some serious steps and techniques to make your tomato farming a success.
Varieties of tomatoes
When farming tomatoes we have two main varieties of tomatoes which you should put into consideration and include:
Fresh market variety
These are the fast growing and high yielding variety but also have poor keeping quality since they rot faster and easily. The best way to avoid thus variety from rotting is harvesting them earlier when they are not fully ripe.
This variety consists these types of tomatoes:
- Bee eater
- Super marmande
- Hot set
This variety has good keeping quality since they are not easily affected by ecological surrounding when harvested.
This variety consists these types of tomatoes:
- Kenya beauty
- Iox hybrid
- San merzane
Ecological requirements for tomato farming
Each variety here tend to grow well in warm climatic regions, there are instances there are regions with low climatic conditions hence there is need to use a greenhouse for the growing of tomatoes.
Tomatoes do well in altitudes of between 0-2200m above sea level and at an annual rainfall of between 760-1500mm but can also tolerate rainfall of up to 2400mm. But you should put in minds that heavy rainfall can lead to prolonged maturity.
Nursery establishment and management
Make a small hip of soil and prepare it to the finest tilth. The nursery bed should be in a slopy piece of land. Then drop the seeds one per hole and cover it with slight soil. Avoid covering the seeds with large lumps of soil because it can hinder the seeds from germinating.
Water the nursery twice a day, probably early morning and late in the evening. The reason for watering in the morning and in the evening is to avoid the water heating during the day that can burn the germinating seedlings.
A small layer of dry grass called mulch should be place on top of the nursery bed to avoid excessive evaporation of water but should be removed after the seeds starts germinating to make them grow straight and avoiding stem breakage.
After two and half to three and a half weeks before transplanting the seedling to a field, try hardening off the seedlings to prepare them to adapt to the new ecological and new environment.
When the seedlings are about 10cm tall, they are ready to transplant.
Land preparation for transplanting
When transplanting consider not planting the tomato seedlings where you had planted members of solanaceae family earlier. Solanaceae includes: Irish potatoes, tobacco and pepper which can transmit blight disease to your tomato plants and other pests.
The land which should receive the seedlings should be well dug deeply and most common weeds controlled whether manually uprooting or spraying. Each hole should be about 10-15 cm deep long and consider a spacing of 100 by 50cm depending on the variety to make proper space for expanding of the crop and also during weeding and making other farm practices could be easy.
Most organic fertilizers encourage pest infestation but you can use a handful of it. You can as well use 150 to 200kgs of double super phosphate (DSP) per hectare and one tea spoonful of the same per hole while mixing it well with the top soil to avoid corrosion.
Transplanting your tomato seedlings
Uprooting the seedlings when the seed bed is dry can lead to breakage of roots or the stem, so the best thing to do is to wait till it rains or manually pour water on the seed bed before uprooting the seedlings.
Use a garden trowel to make sure the seedlings have a lump of soil and always pick the plants which are healthy rapidly growing up. Water the transplanted seedlings on a regular basis and improvise mulching to avoid excessive water evaporation during hot environmental conditions.
Field management practices
This is the removal of other growing small plants from the main plant. Pruning will help the main plant take water and other nutrients without distraction or competition the other small or shoots growing from the main plant.
Is the replacement or planting a crop where one had earlier been planted but due to uncontrolled reason, may be destroyed by animal or wilted and died.
This will help in maximum growth of plants for maximum yields.
- Top dressing
Nitrogenous fertilizers should be used when the plants reach the height of 30-35cm. 100kgs of CAN should be used per hectare. Don’t exceed this amount of nitrogen in the soil as nitrogen may affect the plants in the following ways: prolonged maturity of the plants, encourage blossom-end rot and cracking of the fruit before maturity.
You should hand cultivate the tomato plants which may include manually uprooting weeds and adding soil to the roots of the plants, but you should be keen not to vigorously shake the plants to avoid flowers and immature fruits to fall.
Is the process of making the tomato plants go straight together, actually is supporting the plant. There are other dwarf varieties of the tomato plants that support themselves but the tall ones can be supported by using a rope or small tall sticks.
Tomato pests and their control
American Boll worm
This pest mainly targets and attacks the fruits, it feeds with its head in the fruit and the rest of the body is kept outside.
Control of the American Boll worm
- Spray your tomatoes at an early stage with proper insecticide.
Tomato diseases and their control
- Is caused by a fungi called phytophthora infestas. This is a fungal disease.
Early symptoms of tomato blight
- Dry lesion on leaves and fruits
- After infection the fruits will start rotting and fall off.
Control of tomato blight
- Early spraying the tomatoes since there is no cure after infection.
- Caused by an organism but can also be caused by:
- Irregular watering of the tomato plants
- Calcium deficiency
- Too much nitrogen application
- Caused by a bacteria called pseudominas Solana cearum.
Early symptoms of bacterial wilt
- Plants wither and dry
Control of bacterial wilt
- Use treated seeds
- Practice crop rotation
Harvesting and marketing of tomatoes
Tomatoes which are supposed to be processed should be left in the farm till they are ripe to a red color while fresh market variety which has poor keeping quality should be plucked earlier from the farm to give the farmer an adequate time to make transportation and storage easier.
Wooden crates should be used to transport tomatoes to avoid squashing of the fruits.