4 Stages Of Tomato Cultivation
Cultivating your plants involves germinating the seeds, transplanting, staking and pruning. From the beginning, you have to take good care of your tomato plant so that it grows to be strong and healthy. The quality of your crop will also depend on the care you give your plants during cultivation.
Knowledge is power so you will need to know the four stages in order to cultivate your plants well.
Sowing Your Seeds
This stage can also be called the germinating stage. Germination is the process of taking the seeds and growing them into a new plant. To shorten the germination process, raise your seedlings indoors or in a greenhouse. This process will usually take 8 to 10 days. Make sure the temperature is not below 15° C.
To give your seedlings a good start, sow the seeds into compressed peat pots. They will swell in just 10 minutes when soaked in water. Use separate pots to keep the roots from getting tangled during their growth spurt. For the soil, you have two options. The first option is to buy seedling mix at a gardening store. The second option is to make your own by combining compost, potting mix and cow manure. Mix it well to ensure the soil is crumbly and contains no large sods. This is important because your plants’ baby roots will need a soft, well aerated soil for them to penetrate and grow well.
Your seedlings are ready for the world outside if they have 3 or 4 leaves or when they are 4 to 6 weeks old. For transplanting to be successful, make sure there is no risk of frost. Soil temperature must be at the right level for your plants to thrive. Use a soil thermometer to ascertain this. The technique here is to give your plant a period of adjustment. Place your tomato plant outdoors for about 7 days so that they will get used to the drop in temperature and then after that period you can transplant them to your garden. Polythene covers will also help in keeping your plants warm. Another technique that you can do is to dip your seedlings, as you transplant, in a solution of seaweed so that your plants’ root growth will be boosted.
Staking Your Plants
Once your plant has settled in, you need to support and train them. Traditionally tomato plants are supported either side on a stake or a trellis. Whatever the method you choose, make sure to construct your support soon after transplanting so that soil disturbance will occur before the root system of your plant is established.
The type of plant support determines the spacing. If you’re using stakes, plants should be 1 foot apart. Tomato cages, on the other hand, need to be spaced 2 feet between plants so that optimal growth is achieved. The type of plant you have is also a factor in spacing. Generally determinate tomatoes can be planted a bit closer that indeterminates especially is they are left to sprawl. Also, keep in mind that large plants will spread their roots over 3 feet.
Good tomato cultivation includes proper pruning of your plants. If a plant is properly pruned, every leaf will have access to the sun. You can trim the very first flowers of your plant so that it will not spend too much energy on low-lying tomatoes which is vulnerable to diseases. As a general rule, prune all leaf branches and leaves. Have 3 or 4 leaves on top of your plant to act as solar panels.
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