Tuesday, November 7, 2017

LOVE AND HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH MY TOMATOES




 


When it comes to my journey as an urban gardener, I have a love-and-hate-relationship with tomatoes!  It has been years, and several packets of tomato seeds - but I am not successful in growing this red salad staple.  The best that I have done so far, planted a cherry tomato plant on my veranda facing sunrise, and it yielded me... ONE piece of cherry tomato.  Sad.



They say I have a green thumb, and I can almost germinate any seeds, from seed packets or from kitchen scraps. Then... why oh why... can't I grow tomatoes to full cycle?  Why am I being deprived of the joy of harvesting full grown tomatoes... hay....

So I researched.  And I found out that tomatoes:  

  • Thrive under the full sun.  But during the hot summer days, you have to guard them against extreme heat by watering at least 3x a day
  • Hate the rain.  You must  create some sort of a soil drainage to ensure that water will not be stuck for hours in the perimeters of your tomato plant
  • They are heavy feeders.  They need all the nutrients that they can get from the soil
So again, I started germinating tomato seeds from kitchen scraps.  Luckily, I was able to germinate more than 20 seedlings.  Waited for them to have at least 4 true leaves before I replanted them on my plastic containers.  I also planted some directly onto the soil. I also put some into my cement planters outside the fence.

ORDINARY TOMATOES FROM TISSUE GERMINATION
CHERRY TOMATOES ALSO FROM TISSUE GERMINATION

PLASTIC CONTAINER VS SOIL:








Based on my soil type, and my garden set up, I observed that the tomatoes I planted on plastic containers thrive well.  Big sturdy stem, large green leaves.  It also flowered fast. And no traces of aphids.

The ones planted directly to the soil is a bit "malnourished".  Why?  I really don't know.  It also didn't bear any flowers. Wilted then died.





The ones I put on cement planters outside, with no trees for shade, thrive well at first. Several flowers per plant.  But it wilted and died without bearing me any harvest.

So let's talk about the ones inside the plastic containers.  The first four tomatoes grew big and healthy until I observed a worm-like figure that penetrated it.  So sadly, the first harvest has rotten.

But the second set of flowers grew to full maturity.  I harvested around eight medium sized tomatoes from one plant.  After a few days from harvesting, the plant wilted and died.  I think this is what you call DETERMINATE. 

DETERMINATE VS INDETERMINATE

Determinate tomatoes are usually smaller plants that don't require much staking. They are also shorter in stem growth.  Indeterminate tomatoes can grow as tall as 6-12 feet.  

I knew I had a determinate tomato, when I observed that new leaves stopped growing when the flowers came.  Indeterminate tomatoes will continue to bear flowers and tomatoes as long as it can, and as the weather permits.  The indeterminate type also needs a larger space in the garden. So I knew I had the determinate tomato when it thrived in my plastic container.

MAKING MY HEAVY FEEDERS HAPPY:

So what did I do right this time, that I had the chance to harvest several ripe tomatoes.  The secret >> an organic fertilizer.

RECIPE:     
  • EGG SHELLS
  • COFFEE GROUND
  • BANANA PEEL
  • WATER 
I just mix everything inside a blender and what I produced, I let it settle for 48 hours. After 2 days, I put directly into the soil.

Egg shells add calcium that help the tomatoes regulate moisture intake and prevent the blossom ends from rotting.  The coffee grounds brings in nitrogen to the soil.  The banana peel is rich in potassium.






 
I would love to experiment on putting EPSOM salt on my tomatoes.  But its hard to source it out and kindda expensive  :)

So now that I am equipped with the knowledge on how to put nutrients into the soil for my tomatoes to thrive, I am going back to germinating new batch of tomatoes from packets and kitchen scrap.  And hoping to hit an indeterminate so I can enjoy my tomatoes more.

P.S.  I have successfully germinated the normal tomato type. Tried my technique on cherry tomatoes but so far... I am not successful. Oh well, cherry tomatoes, I think, is a different story.