TOMATO GROWING IS NOT DIFFICULT
How Amateurs Can Produce this Valuable Health-Giving Fruit
DIG FOR VICTORY LEAFLET No. 8 (Page 2 of 4)
The Best Varieties
Varieties that give smooth, medium-sized, well-shapeu fruits are most favoured. Examples of this type are Ailsa Craig, Stonor’s Exhibition, E.S.L, Harbinger, Earliest of All and Market King. Those who prefer larger somewhat irregular fruits will find Potentate and Fillbasket suitable.
Of those tomato seeds, Ailsa Craig is still a popular variety in the UK although Craigella is similar but resistant to green back. Harbinger and Stonor’s Exhibition are still in the mainstream lists. Earliest of All can still be found and possibly Market King.
E.S.L, Fillbasket and Potentate seem lost to us in Britain. There is a a popular tomato in New Zealand called Potentate but from the description I do not think it is the same variety
If seed is to be sown, it is important to obtain good reliable strains of these varieties. Cheap tomato seed seldom represents a true saving.
Raising the Plants
As good plants suitable for planting can usually be purchased from nurserymen, it is seldom worth the trouble for amateurs to raise their own. It takes from 6 lo 8 weeks to raise the plants to planting size, and this requires a constant temperature of from 60 to 65° F.
The seed is sown thinly in shallow pans or boxes filled with 2-3 in. of fresh, prepared soil. Cover with a sheet of glass or paper until the seedlings appear. Keep the seedlings near the light until the second rough leaves appear, then pot off singly in size 60 pots. Pot firmly, using the same mixture of soil as before, and grow on in full light, watering carefully as required.
A well-grown tomato plant should be sturdy and short jointed, dark in colour with a bluish tinge. When the plants are about 9 in. high, with the first flower truss developing, they are ready for their final fruiting quarters.
After planting, water the plants carefully until rooting has become well developed. Use water of same temperature as the houses. Each plant should be provided with a bamboo cane or stick, or be supported by soft string (fillis) fastened to wires attached to the rafters of the house and twisted round the plant’s stem as growth proceeds.
Keep each plant to one main stem, removing all lateral growths as soon as they appear springing from the bases of the leaves. A plant will sometimes branch naturally from the main growing point and it is possible in some circumstances to retain both stems, but as a general rule the weaker one should be removed, so concentrating all the plant’s strength in a single stem.
When the boxes or pots are full of roots, about the time the first truss of fruit is beginning to colour, the plants should be fed regularly. Potash is very necessary to fruitfulness in tomatoes, but the plants undoubtedly respond to the use of a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, potash and phosphate, such as the “National Growmore Fertilizer.”
The fertilizer is best used as a top dressing after the fruit commences to swell. Sprinkle it on the soil of pots, boxes or borders at the rate of 2-3 oz. per sq. yd. and well water in. Repeat every 10-14 days.
Watering and Ventilation
Dried blood is a very suitable form of nitrogenous dressing to be used with discretion when the plants are losing colour. Weak manure water given once a week will also assist the plants. The secret of successful tomato growing under glass lies in careful attention to plant growth and fruit development. Well managed plants will go on growing and fruiting until the end of the season, while others fail after the fourth or fifth truss.
Little is gained by ” stopping ” the plants, that is, nipping out the growing shoot, unless space is restricted for continuous growth. The plants of late crops (August plantings) are best restricted to about four trusses.
The ventilation of the greenhouse should at all times be carefully attended to. Avoid cold draughts, but use the ventilators to maintain an airy, buoyant atmosphere. Water on bright sunny days so that the atmosphere is least affected by the moisture. A light syringing on sunny days will assist ” setting ” of the fruit. A slight jarring of the plants every day will help.
As the trusses of fruit ripen and are gathered, the plants’ leaves from the base upwards may either be shortened or removed. Avoid overdoing this defoliation, for without good leaves the fruit cannot develop freely.