Tomato is a plant which belongs to the Solanum genus.
The tomato is a very popular plant with gardeners, grown mainly for its edible fruits which can be eaten raw or added to cooked dishes. Tomato fruits are green when unripe, mainly tinting to a deep red when ripe, but there are a plethora of different cultivars commonly available that produce yellow, orange, brown and purple coloured fruits. The fruit varies in size from small grape-size to fist-sized or larger.
The plant itself is perennial plant in tropical areas, but is usually grown as an annual plant and can be grown outside or in greenhouses.
There are many varieties of Tomato, but they fall into three main types:
Determinate plants grow to a known height and width. Once these plants reach their pre-determined height, they stop, produce their flowers, and then produce their tomatoes, usually all at once. After that burst of fruiting, production stops. Many of the “bush” varieties fall into this category. Pruning is not required (besides suckers being plucked off) as that will only cut off fruit that would have grown.
Indeterminate plants produce a summer-long stream of flowers and fruit, and will keep growing, often requiring massive staking or caging. These plants will often grow to 9 feet (2.75 meters). They will produce fruit right up until the first frost, and pruning is suggested after a stem has stopped producing flowers.
Semi-Determinate plants are somewhere in the middle of indeterminate and determinate varieties. They will grow longer than determinate varieties, but will not extend generally to the first frost like indeterminate varieties will. They will produce a large first crop like determinate varieties, but will continue to produce fruit sparsely throughout the rest of the season.
Decoding Tomato Disease Resistance
Hybrid tomatoes often contain a string of letters after their name to denote what disease resistance has been bred into them. Following are the meaning of the letters:
V = Verticillium wilt
F = Fusarium wilt race 1
FF = Fusarium wilt race 1 & race 2
N = Root Nematodes
A = Alternaria stem canker
T = Tobacco Mosaic Virus
St = Stemphylium (grey leaf spot)
TSWV = Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
Remember: disease resistance does not mean that the plant is entirely immune to these viruses.
Mexico is thought to be the country of origin for Tomato.
Tomato is normally fairly low maintenance and is normally quite easy to grow, as long as a level of basic care is provided throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun and water preferences will result in a happier and healthier plant.
This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Tomato have been kindly provided by our members.
Many gardeners prune off the suckers as the plant grows — these are the vines that sprout from the crotch where a branch meets the main stem. Pruning the suckers is particularly important for indeterminate tomatoes, because it prevents them from growing unreasonably large, and directs more energy to the fruit.
Take care to avoid getting the leaves wet when you water the plant, as this can encourage fungal growth on the leaves.
When the plant flowers, some people find it is helpful to spray it with a dilute solution of epsom salt (1 tablespoon per gallon of water), to provide a boost of magnesium, which helps the plant set fruit. The advisability of using any salt-based fertilizer is debated however.
If the plant’s leaves turn yellow, it may be that additional feeding is needed. You can side dress the plant with compost, or you can spray it with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or seaweed (mixed according to the package directions). If fish or seaweed is used, it should be sprayed on the leaves of the plant. Don’t touch the leaves after spraying, to avoid spreading any fungus to the plant. The plants should be fed no more than twice a month.
It is also helpful to spray the plant with diluted milk at least once during the growing season. Milk has natural anti-fungal and anti-mildew properties. Mix about 1 tablespoon of milk with 1 cup of water (you want about a 1:10 ratio of milk to water). Put the mix in a spray bottle and spray the leaves of the plant, making sure to get the undersides. This may be combined with feeding, and as with feeding, avoid touching the plant when the leaves are wet. This treatment can be repeated up to twice a month if fungus or mildew is a problem. Spoiled milk and powdered milk may be used.
Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. As a rough idea of the types of climates Tomato does best in, check to see if your local area is within USDA Hardiness Zones 3 and 14. Ensure your soil is loamy and has a ph of between 5.5 and 7.5 as Tomato is a weakly acidic soil - weakly alkaline soil loving plant. Keep in mind when planting that Tomato is thought of as tender, so remember to wait until your soil is warm and the night time temperature is well above freezing before moving outside.
If desired, in late summer you can also prune off branches that do not have flowers or fruit on them (do not do this in early summer, because flowers can emerge at any time). This puts the plant’s energies into the remaining flowers and fruit as the season comes to an end. If your plant still has unripe fruit on it 30-45 days before your first frost date, prune off all remaining flowers, and cut the plant off at about 5 feet from the ground. This will force the plant’s energies into the remaining fruit and give them a better chance of ripening on the vine before the frost.
In most parts of the US and Europe, seeds must be started indoors because the growing season is too short for them to be started in the ground. Keep seedlings evenly moist and covered until they sprout.Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 0.78 inches (2.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.39 inches (1.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 12°C / 54°F to ensure good germination.
By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Tomato about 42 days before your last frost date .
Move seedlings to a bright light source as soon as they emerge from the starting mix. When the plant develops its first true-leaves, repot it in a larger pot to help it develop strong roots. Many gardeners repot it a second time before it is planted outside to help it grow even stronger roots.
Transplant out when it is at least 15cm (6 inches) high. Snip off the bottom set of leaves, and bury the plant up to the first remaining set of leaves. It will form roots all the way up the buried stem.
If cutworms are a problem in your area, make a cutworm collar out of an empty toilet paper roll.
Many gardeners provide extra fertilizer for the plant when it is planted. Some people use commercial fertilizers (organic or commercial) while others use fish heads, manure or other homemade and free sources.
Crushed egg shells in the hole may also be helpful, by providing the plant with extra calcium for fruit setting. Some people also add bonemeal or powdered milk to the hole (the milk provides calcium as well as some protection against fungal and mildew
Ensure that temperatures are mild (minimum night temperatures should be around 13°C / 55°F) and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Tomato is a tender plant.
Tomatoes require a minimum air temperature of at least 13C (55F), and a minimum soil temperature of 12C (53F). Do not plant out before these temperatures are reached. They can survive nighttime air temperatures as low as 7 C (45F) and soil temperatures as low as 10C (50F) but they will not grow until the soil has reached 13C (55F).
By our calculations*, you should look at planting out Tomato about 10 days after your last frost date.
Pick fruits when they are ripe to overripe. Save seeds from several fruits.
To ensure germination of saved tomato seed, certain steps must be taken. The saving of tomato seeds is done through a fermentation process as the gel surrounding the seeds in the fruit is a growth inhibitor.
1. Take your seeds and place them in a plastic container. Fill with water and let sit in a warm, shaded area until a fine white mould starts to produce. This takes approx. 3-7 days.
2. Take a spoon, and scoop out all the mould after it appears, as well as any seeds that have floated to the top as these are dead seeds.
3. Strain the water out of the container, and rinse the seeds thoroughly.
4. Place the seeds on a non-stick surface (wax paper, butcher’s paper, or aluminum foil, do not use paper as the seeds will stick to this) and allow them to completely dry. This takes approx. 7 days.
5. After the seeds are thoroughly dried, place them in a seed packet, or bag. If placing in a plastic bag, add some desiccates to ensure that moisture does not become confined in the bag and cause the seeds to mould.
These plants have been known to grow well alongside Tomato so consider planting:
Alliums, celery, geraniums, petunias, nasturtium, borage, basil, oregano, parsley, carrots, marigold, asparagus
Tomato loves Carrot
Tomatoes and carrot tend to share space well.
Tomato loves Onion
The strong smell of onion helps to deter pests from around the tomato plant.
Tomato loves Garlic
The strong smell of garlic helps to deter pests from around the tomato plant.
Tomato loves Borage
Borage helps to deter tomato hornworm.
Tomato likes Asparagus
Grow well together as Asparagus is often ready for harvest just before tomato plants are mature.
Tomato loves African Marigold
Marigolds help to deter harmful nematodes.
Tomato loves Garden nasturtium
Nasturtiums help deter whitefly and aphids.
Tomato loves Basil
Basil is great for improving the taste of tomatoes.
Tomato likes Lettuce
The lettuce will share the space well and enjoy the shade provided by the tomato plants in the summer heat.
Tomato likes Snap pea
Plant the peas early and they can use the tomato trellises before the tomatoes get big. Peas fix nitrogen and improve soil fertility.
These plants will not grow well with Tomato so avoid planting these within close proximity:
Cabbage, kohlrabi, black walnut, corn, fennel, peas, dill, potatoes, beetroot, kale, rosemary
Tomato hates Black walnut
Inhibits growth of the tomato plant.
Tomato hates Dill
Dill attracts tomato horn worm.
Tomato hates Broccoli
Brassicas tend to inhibit growth in tomatoes, so plant well away.
Tomato hates Cabbage
Brassicas tend to inhibit growth in tomatoes, so plant well away.
Tomato hates Sweet corn
Encourages corn ear worm (which is near identical to Tomato fruit worm)
Tomato hates Fennel
Fennel inhibits the growth of tomatoes.
Tomato hates Kohl rabi
Kohl rabi inhibits the growth of tomatoes.
Tomato hates Rosemary
Rosemary inhibits the growth of tomatoes.
These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Tomato plants:
Tomatoes can afflicted by a large host of diseases and fungal infections. The good thing is that there are many tomato varieties that will have certain resistances to problems that might be issues for certain areas. Areas with high rain fall for example will have an increased risk for blights.
Another method to avoiding disease is to practise crop rotation. By not growing the same kind of plants in the same soil year after year this prevents diseases and fungi that cause disease from building up in the soil.
Good sanitation is also important for keeping your plants and garden space healthy year after year. If you suspect a plant of disease keep it from touching other healthy plants. Wash your hands and all tools well before using them on healthy plants if they’ve touched diseased plants.
Practising good weeding techniques is also important and weeds can often harbour disease for plant in the Solanum family but not show any outward signs themselves.
Below is a list of the some of the most common diseases and afflictions that can affect tomatoes. It’s important to get proper identification for your sick plant and what’s afflicting it if you suspect any of these. Bringing a small part of the plant to a local greenhouse will often give you the best result for identifying what’s wrong with your plant and getting the correct course of treatment.
Caused mainly by a combination of cool (below 70F / 21C) and damp conditions.
Common disease for tomatoes and peppers / capsicum caused by a bacterial spec...
Seed borne organism that attacks Tomato plants. Can survive for short periods...
Caused by soil-borne fungi that attacks through the roots and grows upward in...
Can be caused by periods of wet weather in the spring just after transplantin...
Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) is carried by tobacco in cigarettes, and is mainly...
Botrytis rot or crown rot is a fungal disease that is very common in rainy we...
Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) was first found in Cucumbers, hence its name - ho...
Cutworms are dull brown caterpillars that are normally they are found on or j...
A generic term for a wide range of small leaf-eating beetles with powerful ba...
Larval stage of a moth who lays it’s eggs on the silks. The caterpillars foll...
Also known as greenfly and blackfly, Aphids are a common sap-sucking garden p...
A snail without a shell. A mollusc with an elongated, soft body with a shiny...
Small, white winged insects measuring between 1-2 mm (1/16th")
Thrips are tiny white coloured flies that feed by burrowing into plant tissue...
Our English name of “Tomato”, came originally from the Spanish “Tomate” who, on their voyages to North America, were the first to encounter this plant while making contact with the Aztecs. The original Nauhatl word (the language the Aztec people spoke) was “xitomatl”, which is where the Spanish got their word “tomate” from.
The tomato was long mistrusted when it was introduced to the Old World. It was often thought to be poisonous. One story is that in 1820, Colonel Robbert Gibbon Johnson announced that at noon on September 26 in Salem, New Jersey he would eat a bushel of the dreaded fruits. Two thousand people thought him mad and turned out to witness the event. To their astonishment, he survived. This story is most likely not true, but it illustrates the fears people had about tomatoes.
In the town of Buñol, Spain, a week-long festival featuring parades and fireworks called La Tomatina is held every year. During La Tomatina, tens of thousands of people participate in the world’s largest tomato fight. The tomato fight tradition began in either 1944 or 1945 but the reason it started has been lost to history. Possible reasons include a local food fight among friends, a juvenile class war, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade, a practical joke on a bad musician, and an accidental spillage from a truck.
Tomatoes, Paste tomato, Dwarf husky cherry gold tomato
Lycopersicon lycopersicum, Lycopersicon esculentum, Solanaceae lycopersicon esculentum, Solanum lycopersicum var. grandifolium
Misspellings: Tomatoe, Tomatoes, Tomatos, Lycopersicon lypersicum, Love apple, Lycopersicon lycoprtsicum, Tomato, Tomato, Tomatos, Lycopersicon escultem
26 Feb 2013
Easy to grow! Produces lots of firm tasty plum tomatoes that are great for making salsas, tomato sauce or chopped on tacos or a salad.
19 Feb 2013
Sweet and prolific. This tomato plant grew to be huge, so be warned.
18 Feb 2013
Very prolific, pick often all season. Sweet and juicy. Great as a healthy snack or in salads. Dry them in a dehydrator and use in soups or almost any dish— or just eat them like raisins!
07 Feb 2013
Most seeds geminated, thinned to 2 per cell
04 Feb 2013
All seeds geminated, thinned to 2 per cell
Tomato care instructions
How long does Tomato take to grow?
Our when to plant Tomato estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!
Popular varieties of Tomato
- Yellow Pear
- Cherokee Purple
- Black Krim
- Early girl
- Supersweet 100
- Green Zebra
View the complete variety list for Tomato »
A group for discussing one of the most rewarding to grow plants, the humble tomato. This is a place to discuss growin...486 members / 193 topics