This tart-sweet fruit with wondrous glow, the one and only to-ma-to!”
Quite simply on the top of the popularity charts, this fruiting veggie is also amazingly hardy and easy to grow, and is a sheer joy to behold when laden with tomatoes!
SEASONS: Tomato plants are seasonal. They are best grown in consonance with summers, as they need hot suns to bring fullness to fruit. Ideally, sow in early January for harvest from March to May. You could also try sowing in September and aim to get harvests through till May if your plants are robust enough, but the Mumbai winters would be likely to lower fruit production.
PROPAGATING: This plant is propagated from seed. Buy tomato seeds from your garden shop, or prepare your tomato seeds from scratch. Scoop out the gelatinous center of the tomato with its seeds, place in a bowl, add a few tablespoons of water, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to ferment. Stir the mixture each night, replacing the plastic wrap loosely each time. At the end of three days, remove the fermented surface and sieve the mixture to get the seeds. Wash seeds well and spread out to dry on a clean surface. After a week your seeds will be ready for use or storage.
GERMINATING: Tomato seeds can be germinated in seeding pods or germinating dishes/seeding baskets that are prepared with a mixture of compost and peat moss. Seeds can be sown in 1/2 inch deep holes. Place in semi-shade and spray water evenly. Spray your sown seeds daily until seedlings emerge in 7-15 days
PLANTING OUT: Plant out your seedlings when they are at least 2 weeks old and sturdy in stem. Choose very well-drained, very highly composted and manured soil that is slightly acidic, in full, direct and strong sunlight. Space out your seedlings 12-18 inches apart to allow these bushy plants the space they need to grow out to maturity. Tomato plants will grow well on open plots and in medium to large containers.
NURTURING: Place mulch around the soil to reduce evaporation and water deeply each day, twice a day in peak summer. As your plant grows, support its branches by loose ties to a conical tomato cage, or tripod of sticks, about 4 feet high. Snip off yellowing branches and feeder branches to strengthen growth of the main plant. Keep adding compost and manure to your potting mix, covering up exposed plant roots as you do so, to strengthen the plant.
HARVESTING: Harvest your tomatoes when they are fully-grown and sun-ripened. Your plants will produce for the entire season (4-5 months or longer with some good nurturing). When productivity declines at end of season, uproot, replenish your soil, and use that space for rooting or leafing veggies next.
A single tomato plant can produce up to 50 tomatoes per season
Harvest your tomatoes when they are fully grown and sun-ripened
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