The Mighty Tomato

What Kind Of Tomato Smells The Best?… A Roma!

After a cool and wet week we are promised a warmer and much more seasonable stretch of weather gradually becoming warmer until Saturday when it is predicted to be a return to rain.

Although this is a labor and water saving event I am looking forward to a good stretch of sun and warmth.  I must apologize for a presumptuous announcement of the opening of the Lumby and District Public Market.  Rules and Regulations around the Covid Pandemic have made opening the market  expensive and complicated in order to accommodate our vendors and clients.  So unfortunately we will not be opening this year.  We will with good fortune be able to open next year, and will sadly miss our participants, vendors and shoppers alike!  

Tomatoes are one of the staples in most peoples garden and the varieties available are dizzying, however, there are only two types of tomatoes to be concerned with and that is determinant and indeterminate.  Depending on your space and use for your tomatoes this may be a consideration to the type of tomato you will grow.  Determinant tomato plants might be better if you are planning to do some canning as the fruit will become become ripe all around the same time where as Indeterminate plants will continue to grow and produce tomatoes until the frost kills the plants.  They also are usually a more compact plant and Indeterminate plants are usually larger and need staking to support this continuous growth.  Roma tomatoes are usually determinant and are considered a flavourful canning or stewing tomato.  Either way tomato plants require the same care and attention to produce the ultimate fruit and are subject to the same diseases although through hybridization some are more resilient to pests and diseases such as verticillium and fusarium which are fungal diseases.  Tomato plants require consistent, slow and deep watering.  Overwatering can be as bad for your plants as under watering and will present the same with yellowed, bumpy leaves and fruit that is misshapen fruit.  This is due to the decrease of air in the soil, however this problem can be overcome by correcting your watering practices.   Once your plants are established you should water deeply (about 2 inches worth) weekly, more often if the weather is extremely hot.  Mulching should be considered to help with evaporation during these periods. What cannot be corrected by watering is different fungal diseases that may present with the same yellowed leaves but the plant continues to go downhill until death no matter what changes you make to its care.  The defining clue will be the brownish discolouration that is present when you cut into the stem of the poor dead plants.

Along with the proper amounts of water pruning can also contribute to the health and production of your plants.  All suckers should be removed early in there growth these are the shoots that form in the axis of the side branches that join the main stem.  I also remove side branches that are very near the soil surface and any leaves that touch the ground as this helps to prevent fungal infections that can be picked up from the soil.  Remove all leaves that are spotted or are turning yellow.  Pruning will open the plant to good aeration and allow sunshine to reach all parts of the plant.  This will help with the prevention of both disease and pests.  Tomato crops should be planted in an area that has not grown tomatoes in the past two years and if you grow Black Walnut you should keep the plant 75 to 100 feet away as they are poisonous to tomatoes.  The plants themselves should be spaced about 2 feet apart.

Blossom End Rot can be another plague to the tomato.  This presents itself in a rotten spot at the bottom off the tomatoes fruit.  It may be due to a calcium deficiency which can be a deficiency in the soil or it can be caused by continuous overwatering which prevents enough calcium from reaching the plant or the use of too much high nitrogen fertilizers causing the plant to grow too rapidly.  So one must gage the proper amount of water, fertilizer and calcium that you give to your plant.  This is especially important in tomatoes grown in pots.  The use of epsom salts is also another consideration when growing tomatoes.  This gives your plants many trace minerals and can help with the uptake of calcium.  Be careful as many people have overdone this application with unfortunate results.  One teaspoon per gallon once a month is sufficient.  If your plant seems to be dropping its flowers with no sign of fruit development this could be due to too cool temperatures which we have no control of if planting in the great outdoors.  The ideal temperature for growing tomatoes is a daytime temperature of 18 – 21 degrees with night time temperatures of about 13 degrees.

Happy Gardening!
Samantha Nason, BS Ranch & Greenhouses • 250 547 6567

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