Tomatoes are technically fruits (berries to be exact) that are treated like vegetables. Tomatoes are one of the most common garden plants in the United States and have a reputation for being easy to grow, and producing a prolific cropsn. Plants usually grow 1–3 m high, on a weak, woody stem that often needs support. Leaves are 10–25 cm long, with hairy leaflets. The small, 1-2cm yellow Flowers come in groups of 3–12.
Tomatoes are grown around the world for their edible fruit, and thousands of Cultivars having been selected for varying fruit types, colors, sizes, textures, shapes, and for optimum growth in different climates and conditions. They range in size from the 1-2cm Cherry tomatoes, to the 10cm or more beefsteak tomatoes. Most cultivars are in the 5-6cm range and red is the most common color, though yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, or white fruit are also easily found. Some have multicolored and striped fruit. Tomatoes grown for Canning are usually elongated, at 7–9 cm long and 4–5 cm wide; they are known as Plum tomatoes.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Tomato. The plant Lycopersicum esculentum (which see, page 1931, Vol. IV), grown extensively for its edible fruit.
The tomato is probably grown more extensively in North America than elsewhere, and the varieties have reached a high degree of perfection. The American standard or ideal is a tomato that is nearly globular, solid and "smooth" (that is, not wrinkled). (Fig. 3818.) The flat angled and wrinkled tomatoes (Fig. 3819) are now little grown in this country. These forms are little adapted to canning, in which use enormous quantities of tomatoes are employed, and they do not satisfy the popular desire. The old-time pear, cherry, and plum forms (Fig. 3820) are still grown for curiosity and also for the making of pickles and preserves, but their field culture is relatively not important. The currant tomato, grown for ornament and curiosity, is considered to be Lycopersicum pimpinellifolium. It sometimes hybridizes with the common species (Figs. 2234, 2235, Vol. IV).
The tomato requires a warm soil and climate, a sunny open position, and also a long season. The plants are usually started in hotbeds or glass houses, being transferred to the open as soon as settled weather comes. They are usually set from 4 to 5 feet apart each way and are allowed to grow as they will, finally covering the ground. For home use, however, the plants are often trained, in order to forward their ripening and to secure larger and better-colored fruits. The best method is to train to a single stem, supported by a stake or perpendicular wire or cord (Fig. 3821); or sometimes it is tied to the horizontal strands of a trellis. This single-stem training requires close attention, and if the time cannot be spared for it, the vines may be allowed to lie on an inclined trellis or rack. This rack training keeps the plants from the ground and thereby allows the individual fruits to develop perfectly and also checks the spread of the fruit-rot; but it usually does not give such perfect fruits as the single-stem training, since the number of fruits is limited in the latter. Sometimes a serious difficulty in tomato-growing is a rot of the fruit. This seems to cause most damage following close wet weather when the fruit is ripening. It is thought to be worst on plants that cover the ground thickly with foliage and do not allow it to become dry on the surface. Usually it does not seriously lessen the crop beyond a few pickings; and if the plants are brought into bearing early and are kept in thrifty condition for subsequent bearing, the percentage of total injury is greatly reduced. The tomato is tender to frost. The green fruit remaining when frost kills the plants may be ripened in tight drawers or cupboards, if it is nearly or quite full grown. The tomato is a short-lived perennial, but in cold climates it is grown from seeds as an annual. It may be grown from cuttings.
General culture of the tomato.
The tomato plant comes from regions in South America where the conditions of temperature and moisture in its growing season are very constantly favorable for its rapid growth and the ripening of a large yield of fruit. Although it cannot be classed as a tropical and hardly as a semi-tropical plant, it thrives best in a day temperature of 65° to 85° F., makes very slow growth in one below 40° F., and, unless hardened by gradual exposure, will be killed by a short exposure to a temperature of 32°. It is a rapid-growing short-lived plant and under favorable conditions will mature its first fruit in ninety to one hundred and twenty days from the sowing of the seed and continue in bearing for fifty to ninety days, when it will generally die of exhaustion, though its life may be prolonged (but with lessened vigor) either by cuttings or layering. It is emphatically a sun-loving plant and unobstructed sunlight is essential for its most vigorous growth and greatest fruitfulness. An attempt to grow tomatoes of superior or even good quality in an orchard or at a season when the sunlight is likely to be dimmed much of the time by clouds or mists is very likely to be disappointing.
The splendid color often seen in Italian-grown fruits is due to cloudless skies rather than to superior varieties or cultural methods. Under favorable conditions the plant is a vigorous and rapid grower and capable of maturing an enormous crop of fruit, but it requires for even a fair yield very constantly favorable conditions, and any check in its growth from cold or cloudy weather or too deep and harsh cultivation, even if the plant seems fully to recover, will surely materially lessen the yield of fruit. Many cases have been seen in which cultures within a few miles of each other and on similar soil have matured crops differing greatly in quantity and quality as a result of such difference in cultural practice as to bring one crop into the fruiting-stage in better condition, or at a time when the weather was more favorable for a full setting of fruit. The plant, however, is very tenacious of life and will often live and produce some fruit under most unfavorable conditions and many who have grown it for years do not know of the amount of fruit a healthy tomato plant is capable of producing. It is doubtful whether the average yield of all the cultures in the United States exceeds 6,000 pounds of marketable fruit to the acre. Yet every season for the past fifty years many fields have been known where the salable crop was from 30,000 to 40,000 pounds to the acre, with exceptional still larger yields.
Exposure is often an important factor in determining the profit of a crop. Generally a gentle inclination to the southward, with protection of higher land or forest on the side from which cold and damp winds may be expected will give the largest yield of the most marketable fruit, but a sharp inclination to the south, particularly if it be steep or such as to form a hot pocket, rarely produces a maximum crop, although, because of the early ripening of the fruit, it may be a profitable one.
The largest yields recorded were generally grown on red clay loam. Large yields are often secured from soils of very different compositions, from "gumbo" prairie, marsh muck, stiff clay, to a light sand provided the conditions of drainage, fertility, and tilth are favorable, but a maximum crop can never and even a profitable one very seldom be grown on a cold soil, or one which is poorly drained, sodden, sour, or hard and solid from want of cultivation. A good crop of tomatoes very seldom follows one of tomatoes or potatoes.
Tomatoes are rank feeders and the use of fresh stable manures and those carrying a large proportion of nitrogen is likely to result in a rank growth of vines ripening a small crop of fruit of poor quality. The best yields and quality of fruit will usually be from fields rich from fertilizing in previous years. On unfertile fields where one is obliged to use commercial fertilizers, those comparatively rich in potash will generally prove most profitable. The largest yield and best fruit have generally been from rich clover sods, which were plowed as early as practicable in the spring, rolled, and made friable by repeated surface cultivation.
Although in all but the extreme northern part of the United States, in very high altitudes and in some parts of the Puget Sound country, tomatoes will generally ripen a full crop from seed sown in the open ground, from Washington northward plants so grown will rarely ripen their crop until past midsummer and much of it will miss the long days of sunshine, which are essential for the development of the best quality. On this account it is desirable, in most cases, to start the plants under glass, so as to give them fifty to sixty days' growth by the time they can be set in the open ground without danger from killing frosts. It is very easy to grow plants to this age, but the character of the growth and the condition in which they go into the fields are most important factors in determining the quantity and quality of the fruit.
Starting the plants under glass is usually accomplished best by sowing the seed in boxes about 4 inches deep and of convenient size for handling, filled with soil made up of two-fifths potting earth or garden loam, two-fifths old well-rotted cow-manure, and one-fifth coarse sharp-grained sand. Soils used in plant-boxes or -beds should always be sterilized by spreading over steam-pipes perforated on the lower side and filled with live steam until a potato buried about 3 inches in the soil is cooked soft. The seed can be sown rather thickly and covered 1/4 to 1/3 inch deep. The boxes should be well watered and set in the shade until the plantlets show above the soil, when they should be set in full sunlight and kept at a constant temperature between 65° and 80°, and given water as needed. The plants should develop large seed-leaves and bud within ten to fifteen days, when they should be transplanted into the frames. The soil of the frames should be 3 to 6 inches deep and freshly made up and sterilized about as recommended for the plant-boxes. The plants may be set twelve to twenty-four to the square foot, according to the time they are expected to remain before setting in the field. The beds should be closely watched and the sash opened as the air in them becomes warmed by the sun to a temperature above 60° and as promptly closed as it cools below 40°. The soil should be watered as necessary to prevent the plants wilting, but this should be done as far as practicable in evening or early morning, rather than during bright sunshine. If necessary the beds may be protected from frost by covering the sash with sacks, old carpets, straw, or even a sprinkling of earth. An inexperienced person will be surprised to see how effective even a slight covering often is. In case frost does creep in, it is best to keep the beds covered until they can warm up without direct sunshine, even if this takes a day or two. Cases have been known in which plants that seemed to be killed were saved by slow warming up. For a few days before the plants are to be set in field, they should be hardened off by scant watering and fuller exposure both to the sun and night air, and the day before they are to be set should be thoroughly sprayed with bordeaux mixture. The field, particularly if it has been a clover sod, should be prepared and cutworms killed by keeping it absolutely free of green vegetation for at least a week before the plants are to be set and the evening before scattering over the surface poisoned bait made by thoroughly mixing one pound of paris green or similar poison with fifty pounds of bran or middlings moistened with sweetened water. The evening after the plants are set, the poison should also be scattered along the rows and the next day the plants should be again sprayed with bordeaux.
Field culture should begin the day after the plants are set and be repeated every four or five days and as soon after every rain as it can be done without puddling the soil. At first the culture should be as close to the plants and as deep as possible, but it should be farther from the plants and shallower each time until it is a mere stirring of the surface in the center of the row, always taking care to disturb the vines as little as possible. The plants should frequently be looked over carefully for potato bugs, the most effective way of combating them being by hand-picking the beetles and eggs when they first appear.
When quantity and quality of fruit is second to early ripening, the seed may be sown earlier and the growth of the plants checked by crowding and a scarcity of water; so treated they generally will form a crown cluster of well-developed fruit by the time one dares risk them in the open. They are then set close in the row and rather deep, with the stem and root slanting to the south and will ripen the first cluster very early, although the remainder of the crop will be late and poor.
When quality rather than quantity of fruit is of first importance, staking and pruning is sometimes advantageous, particularly if the season or the soil is inclined to be wet. With many growers stakes 2 inches square and 5 to 6 feet long have given the best satisfaction. As soon as the tomato plant forms its first cluster of bloom it divides, and both branches are allowed to grow and then tied to the stakes while all other branches are cut off just beyond the first cluster of blossoms; during the early part of the season this will require daily attention. Staking has been found profitable and is very generally practised in the southern states. Even when first discovered by Europeans, the plant or plants now commonly called tomatoes existed in many forms differing so materially in habit of plant and character of foliage and fruit that they were classed by botanists as distinct species, and the number of varieties offered has increased with frequent changes until American seedsmen have catalogued tomatoes under at least 513 distinct names, while many other more or less distinct forms are commonly grown abroad, particularly in Italy.
The following are some of the names used in seedsmen's catalogues, many of them standing for distinct forms of vine or fruit, while others are simply variations in stocks.
Currant or Grape.—Rank-growing, but slender small-leaved vine, very productive of long currant-like stems of bright red fruits not over 1/3 inch in diameter, of little culinary value.
Cherry, both Red and Yellow.—Strong-growing vine, very productive of cherry-shaped fruits, which are excellent for pickles and preserving.
Pear, both Red and Yellow.—Strong-growing vine, small, long-necked, pear-shaped, two-celled fruits.
Plum, both Red and Yellow.—Long oval-shaped, 2-celled fruits, which are excellent for preserving.
Turk's Turban.—Long oval, bright red fruit, with a peculiar growth on the blossom end.
Potato or Broad-leaved (in a number of variations).—Comparatively small vine, with broad entire leaves.
Dwarf Champion.—Vine very short, compact, leaves thick, crumpled, nearly entire.
Tree.—Vine very short, compact and upright in growth, with distinct thick nearly entire leaves.
Peach, both Red and Yellow.—Fruits covered with down similar to that on a peach or plum.
Diadem.—Fruit bright red, distinctly striped with yellow.
While Apple.—Round smooth yellowish white fruit of delicate Savor and the best of all varieties for eating from the hand.
Golden Queen.—Fruit bright yellow, often with a distinct red blush.
Each of the above is so distinct in habit of plant foliage or fruit that botanists might perhaps classify them as distinct species, while the following are some of the more distinct of the varietal forms listed by seedsmen under different names.
Earliana.—Comparatively small weak-growing vine, but maturing very early a large crop of smooth bright red fruit.
Bonny Best.—Vigorous vine, ripening very early and evenly a large crop of uniformly round bright red fruit.
Matchless.—Large smooth bright red fruit, with red fine-flavored but not very solid flesh.
Red Rock.—A healthy productive vine, with uniformly flattened globular fruit of fine flavor.
Dwarf Giant.—Vine dwarf, but very hardy and productive of large handsome bright red fruit of superior quality.
Sterling Castle.—Vine does particularly well under glass, producing large crop of small uniformly round bright red fruit.
Prince Bourghese.—An Italian sort, wonderfully productive of bright red, long plum-shaped fruit of fine flavor.
Stone.—Very vigorous and productive vine, with oval purplish red fruit.
Ponderosa.—Very large solid-fleshed fruit with small seed cavities, little pulp, and few seeds.
June Pink.—Early-maturing, purplish pink fruit.
Acme.—Large vigorous vines, with round purple-pink fruit.
Beauty.—Strong-growing vine, with a large flattish oval purple fruit.
Honor Bright.—Vine, although apparently unhealthy, is very productive of very firm hard-fleshed fruit, which in ripening changes from white to distinct yellow, then to very bright red.
Many carefully conducted trials have shown that first germination crosses will generally give a larger yield of fruit than either parent. In the experience of breeders, such increased yields have been in proportion to the varietal distinctness and purity of stocks crossed.
No distinct difference in the varietal character of plants from seed of different fruits of an isolated vine of pure stock has been noticed, plants from seed of the first and the last ripe fruit of the same vine showing no difference in earliness. Nor has any consistent difference been detected in size or form of fruit in plants grown from seed of a small smooth and a large rough fruit from the same plant.
Although the flowers are seldom self-fertilized, it is thought that they are with few exceptions pollinated from those of the same plant, generally from those of the same cluster and one should be guided in seed selection by the general character of the plant, rather than by that of single fruit. When plants are grown so that the branches intermingle, there would very likely be crossing and it is wisest to save seed from isolated plants.
One should first form a clear-cut conception of the exact varietal character desired, then carefully select isolated plants which come nearest to ideal and save, separately, seed from a number of fruits. A few seeds from each lot should be grown to fruit maturity under glass during the winter. It is quite possible that this will reveal some lots which do not breed true; such can be rejected and the best and purest lots planted for seed crop.
Seed is often viable when taken from fruit so green that it shows but little color and plants from such seed sometimes show a little gain in earliness, but they are weaker, less fruitful and do not carry their individuality so well as those from fully ripened seed. Plumper, heavier seed, which will retain its viability much longer, is secured from fruit which is fully ripe. The amount to a bushel of fruit varies greatly from only one to two ounces in sorts like the Ponderosa to as high as twelve to fourteen ounces in the smaller more seedy sorts. When the amount of fruit is less than a bushel and the appearance of the seed is important, the best plan is to spread the fruit in the sun until it is fully ripe. Cut each fruit through the center, and by squeezing the pulp and seed can be pressed out. Let this stand, and in one to three days, depending on the ripeness of the fruit and the temperature, it will separate, the seed falling to the bottom. Pour off the liquid, add to the seed two or three times its bulk of water, stir, let settle and pour off the water and repeat with fresh water until seed is clean. Spread not over three or four seeds deep and stir every hour or two until seed is thoroughly dry.
Larger quantities can be handled as follows: Separate the pulp and seed from the flesh and skins. Seed-growers usually do this by running the ripe fruit through rollers about 1/2 inch apart. (In a small way, a hand cider-mill will do this very well.) Then run the pulp and seed through a slowly revolving cylinder of wire netting of about 1/4-inch mesh, set at a slight incline so that the seed will fall through the netting, while the flesh, skins, and the like will gradually work out of the lower end. Allow the seed and pulp to stand and ferment until the seed settles and is covered with liquid, which will require from ten to forty-eight hours, according to condition. Care should be taken not to add water or rain while ground fruit is fermenting. Pour off the liquid. Put two or three pails of seed in a barrel, add four to eight pails of water, agitate, and then let seed settle and carefully pour off the water, carrying what pulp and bits of skin it will. Repeat with fresh water till seed is clean. Spread seed not over 1/4 inch deep on cloth- or wire-bottom screens. Expose to sun and every few hours stir the seed until it is entirely dry, then bag. Care should be taken to be sure that seed is quite dry before bagging, for it will seem dry to a novice long before it is fit.
Growing of tomatoes in the South.
The growing of tomatoes on a commercial scale in the southern states began just prior to 1900 and has gradually increased until it is now one of the most important crops grown in that section. Especially is this true of Florida, Mississippi, and Texas.
The crop in Florida begins to move in December and continues at intervals during the winter months. The movement in Mississippi and Texas is more concentrated, beginning the latter part of May and closing the last of June. During the height of the tomato season, solid trainloads of tomatoes are shipped out of the two last-named states daily.
In growing the tomato for the northern markets, earliness is of prime importance. For this purpose, it is necessary to start the crop during the winter months, and, as the tomato is very sensitive to cold, it must be given careful protection for the first six weeks or two months of its growth. This necessarily means extra care and expense, which, in turn, means that the grower, in order to succeed, must exercise a higher degree of intelligence than is shown in the production of the average vegetable crop.
It has been clearly demonstrated that it does not pay to grow tomatoes on a large scale, nor does it pay to grow them when most of the help has to be hired. The best results are obtained when a single family plants not over two or three acres and does all the detail work connected with the growing and harvesting of the crop.
Tomatoes for the early market are started in hot-beds. Both manure and flue hotbeds are used for this purpose. The soil of the hotbed should be loose and porous, but not too rich. Especially should an excessive amount of organic matter be avoided. A good average soil, with 1 inch of leaf-mold added gives good results.
The seeds are sown about January 20. They are placed in rows 4 inches apart, 1/2 inch deep, and from three to four seeds to the inch. Under normal conditions, the seed should begin germinating in six to eight days. The temperature should not be allowed to go over 80° F., during the day, nor below 65° at night. The heat should be so regulated as to produce a slow, steady growth. Too much heat produces rapid, succulent growth, often causing the plants to become weak and spindling, under which conditions they are easily affected by adverse weather and more subject to the attacks of diseases.
As soon as the young plants begin to grow, plenty of ventilation should be given and the soil frequently stirred. The soil should be kept moist, but not wet. By the last week in February, the plants begin to crowd in the row, at which time they should be moved to the cold-frame.
The coldframe is usually located in the field where the crop is to be grown. The soil in the coldframe should be richer and should contain more organic matter than that in the hotbed. The rows are laid off about 3 to 4 inches apart, and the plants set 4 inches apart in the row. A board with wooden pegs set 4 inches apart may be used to advantage in opening the holes for the plants. It is advisable to set the plants deeper than they stood in the hotbed, and, as soon as transplanted, they should be given a good watering. Special pains should be taken to protect them from sudden changes in temperature. At first they should be carefully covered at night; and if the weather is very threatening, an extra cover, such as cotton bagging, Sudan grass mats, and the like, should be used. Whenever the weather is clear and bright, the top should be lifted during the warm part of the day. During the latter part of March, when the nights are warm, the cover may be left off entirely, so as gradually to harden the plants. By the first of April, the tomatoes begin to crowd in the row, which is a good indication that they are ready for moving to the open field.
Tomatoes for the early market should be planted on well-drained elevated land, that has some form of windbreak on the north side. The land should be well broken with a turning plow, then disked, harrowed, and laid off in 4-foot rows. A furrow should be run down each row and fertilizer applied and mixed in with the soil. Just before taking the plants from the coldframe, the soil should be given a thorough wetting. Then one end of the coldframe should be knocked out and the soil should be removed to a depth of 2 inches, up to within a few inches of the first row of plants. A sharp spade or mason's trowel is then used and a 4-inch square is cut around each plant, after which the block of soil containing the tomato is carefully lifted and placed in a flat box or on a wide board, which is then set in a wagon. The wagon should be made to straddle one row and the plants lifted out from the rear and placed from 2 to 3 feet apart in the three adjoining rows. Special pains should be taken when the plants are placed in the furrow to prevent the soil from breaking away from the roots, as they will wilt easily at this stage. Moist soil should be drawn by hand and pressed around each plant. A sweep or small turning plow should then be run around each row so as to fill in the remainder of the furrow.
Tomatoes should receive frequent and thorough cultivation from the time they are set in the open field until the first fruits begin to ripen. A crust should never be allowed to form on the soil, nor should weeds be allowed to grow. A five-tooth cultivator is one of the best implements that can be used in cultivation.
When moved to the open field, the plants are often beginning to show their first cluster of blooms and are also beginning to force out shoots from the axils of the leaves. The plants should be gone over carefully every few days and all lateral shoots and suckers should be removed before they have grown longer than 1 inch. It is a serious mistake to neglect removing shoots and suckers, even for a few days.
When three or four fruit-clusters have set, the terminal bud is pinched out, and thereafter no new growth whatever should be allowed. This severe pruning undoubtedly reduces the amount of fruit to the acre, but it is a considerable aid in the development of quality and earliness.
The staking, like the pruning, should begin soon after the plants are set in the field. A 4-foot stake, 1 by 2 inches, should be driven down within a few inches of the plant, and coarse twine wrapped around the plant and tied to the stake. Two or three tyings should be made during the development of the plant. The staking holds the vines and fruit off the ground, prevents rotting of the fruit in wet weather, and allows the sun and air to strike the fruit, thus inducing earliness, while, at the same time, reducing the danger from diseases.
Tomatoes in the southern states north of Florida begin to ripen about the middle of May. As soon as the ripening period arrives, the tomato patch should be gone over every day during the shipping-season. As soon as the fruit shows a deep creamy white color, with a faint blush of pink, it is ready for harvesting. At the first of the season, the fruit may be allowed to take on a deeper color than later on.
Tomatoes are gathered in one-half-bushel baskets, lined with coarse ducking, and carried to the packing-sheds, which are generally located in the field, and then packed in four-basket crates, averaging twenty pounds, or one-third bushel, each. As a rule, there are two grades: fancy and choice. The fancy are packed with the stem end down and average about twelve to the basket. The choice are packed on the side and average about fifteen to the basket. The six-basket crate is now becoming popular in some sections.
The bulk of the crop is shipped in refrigerator cars, well iced. It is now becoming the custom, when distant markets are to be reached, to harvest the fruit as soon as it is mature, but while still quite green in color. Each tomato is wrapped with soft paper and packed in flats or six-basket carriers and shipped in refrigerator cars, with the ventilators open, but without ice. This is known as the "green-wrapped" pack. It requires 896 four-basket crates to fill a car. A fair average yield is 250 crates to the acre, although a few growers sometimes produce as high as 600. A good average price for a season is 60 cents a crate.
A medium to large tomato, one that is smooth and does not crack easily, is the best for early shipping. The Acme has been the leading variety for many years, while the Earliana, Stone, and Beauty, are grown on a small scale in some sections.
There is no standard fertilizer for tomatoes. Tomato soils of Texas are relatively rich in potash; so, as a rule, it is not necessary to use more than 1 per cent of this ingredient. Most of the Texas growers use a fertilizer containing from 8 to 10 per cent of phosphoric acid, 2 per cent of nitrogen, and 1 per cent of potash. A fertilizer containing from 400 to 600 pounds of equal parts of acid phosphate and cottonseed meal to the acre gives very satisfactory results. In the states east of the Mississippi River, the amount of potash is considerably increased; the total amount of fertilizer used to the acre is also considerably greater. From 800 to 1,000 pounds of fertilizer to the acre, containing 6 per cent phosphoric acid, 7 per cent potash, and 3 per cent of nitrogen, seems to be satisfactory. Fifteen or twenty loads of manure to the acre, applied broadcast, two or three months in advance of planting the crop, will always give good results.
The damping-off fungi often attacks the young plants while they are in the hotbed. These fungi work on the stem of the plant, just where it enters the soil, causing it to shrivel and the top to fall over. Wet soil and a damp sultry atmosphere are conditions that favor the development of this disease. Frequent stirring of the soil and thorough ventilation will go a long way toward preventing the appearance of this trouble. A thin coating of tobacco dust or a mixture of three parts of lime to one of sulfur, spread over the soil after the seed is planted, will also help to hold the disease in check.
The blossom-end rot is a very destructive disease. It makes its appearance when the fruit first begins to ripen, thereby destroying the earliest and most profitable part of the crop. The fruit is attacked at the blossom-end. A small black speck first appears, which gradually increases in size until the entire fruit is affected. There is practically no remedy. The best thing to do is to gather and destroy the fruit as soon as it becomes affected.
Tomato-wilt often attacks the plants when the crop is grown on the same land more than one season in succession. Rotation should be practised as a safeguard against this disease.
The nematode is a microscopic worm which attacks the roots of a tomato plant and causes small bead-like knots to form. Ground infested with this pest should be avoided and whenever there is danger of infestation, cowpeas should not be planted on the land preceding tomatoes, as most varieties of peas encourage the development of the nematode.
The boll-worm sometimes causes considerable damage. This is a large green worm that enters the fruit near the stem-end. As soon as the fruit becomes infested, it is entirely worthless and should be removed and fed to hogs or destroyed. The boll-worm can be partially controlled by spraying with arsenate of lead; put, as it seldom makes its appearance before the fruit is full grown, there is danger in using any poison as a spray.
Tomato-growing under glass.
The tomato ranks next to the cucumber and perhaps next to lettuce in importance as a vegetable forcing crop. It is grown extensively under glass near all of the large cities of the North from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic coast. In some instances houses are devoted wholly to tomatoes, while in the larger number of cases other crops are grown in rotation with tomatoes. A very common practice is to produce lettuce until early spring and then the beds and benches are planted in tomatoes which will ripen during the months of May, June, and July. An early summer crop is considered more profitable than late fall and winter tomatoes, notwithstanding the fact that prices are always much lower. The larger net profits are due to larger yields obtained at much less expense, and there are no fuel bills to pay during the months of June and July and very little artificial heat is required in April and. May. These remarks are not intended even to suggest that the forcing of tomatoes should be restricted to late spring and early summer, for many growers realize satisfactory profits on the fall crop and sometimes on midwinter tomatoes.
The tomato is also a popular vegetable in houses which are used solely in providing fresh vegetables at all seasons for the home table. No fruit or vegetable is more appreciated in the winter months than well-grown greenhouse tomatoes which are superior in quality to those grown in the open ground.
Numerous varieties are used for forcing purposes. English varieties have received much attention and some of them, such as Comet, have been grown on a large scale. American sorts, however, are now relied on mainly by the most extensive American growers. Bonny Best is undoubtedly taking the lead among red-fruited varieties. It is very prolific and the round smooth fruits are popular on most markets. Beauty, Globe, and Trucker Favorite are planted most extensively wherever pink or purple fruits are wanted.
In the starting of tomato plants for forcing, there should be uninterrupted growth from germination until the plants have attained full size in the beds. It is customary to sow the seed for the fall crop soon after June 20, and for the spring crop from January 15 to February 1. If a very early spring crop is wanted, the seed should be sown January 1 or even earlier. The seedlings may be planted in beds or flats at the first transplanting and the second shift should be made to pots large enough to care for the plants without crowding. A third shift to 4- to 6-inch pots is often made, and with good management this should result in very fine plants.
Most of the large commercial growers employ solid beds. Raised benches are used in some sections, especially when carnations precede the tomatoes. Solid beds require no expense for construction and maintenance and it is less difficult to maintain uniform soil-moisture conditions. Benches are an advantage when bottom heat is desired and this should be considered if the crop is to be grown at midwinter. If lettuce is grown until the tomatoes are planted early in the spring, solid beds will be found entirely satisfactory. Large pots and boxes are often used in small houses but they are not practicable on a large commercial scale.
Some persons have an idea that the tomato does well in poor soils. This is an erroneous impression, for high yields are obtained only in rich soils. It is true that the proportion of plant-food must be well balanced. An excess of nitrogen, with copious watering and high temperature, causes a rank growth of plants and a low yield. But the soil must be well provided with the mineral elements and enough nitrogen to meet the needs of the plant. If lettuce is grown until March, and enough manure employed to obtain good crops, the soil should be in ideal condition for tomatoes. It must be borne in mind that the greenhouse soil is a kind of manufactured soil, and it is important to give special attention to the supply of fiber or organic matter. The productiveness of greenhouse soils, whatever the crop may be, depends more on their physical properties than upon their chemical composition. Stable manure, used in ample quantity for lettuce, will make the best preparation for tomatoes and no additional manure will need to be applied to the tomatoes, except as a mulch. Special fertilizers have not been found necessary, and seldom an advantage, when stable manure has been used in sufficient amount to keep the soil in proper physical condition. While sandy loams are preferable for growing tomatoes under glass, any of the common soils, clays included, will give good results when properly handled.
There is the greatest diversity of practice among growers concerning planting distances. Some prefer to plant close together in rows with liberal spacing between rows. For example, a highly successful gardener sets the plants 14 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart. Some plant 2 feet apart each way with alleys at convenient distances. In large commercial houses, liberal spacing between rows is a great advantage in training the plants, pollinating the flowers, and picking the fruit.
It is possible to do a little intercropping between the tomato plants. Lettuce and radishes are sometimes grown between the rows, by starting the crops immediately after the tomato plants have been set. The practice is only fairly satisfactory because the tomato plants shade the lettuce and radishes so that the latter crops are seldom very good.
While tomato plants may be trained to two or more stems, the almost universal practice under glass is to grow single stems. (Figs. 3822. 3823.) This is easily accomplished by removing with thumb and finger all lateral branches as fast as they appear. In order that the laterals do not make too much growth, it is best to look over the plants every three or four days. When the plants attain a height of about 5 feet the tops are nipped. The stems may be supported in any convenient way. Various arrangements of wire, or wire and strings, are usually employed. A common practice is to use fairly heavy string or twine for the uprights which are tied to wires running lengthwise in the house.
Tomatoes under glass may be tilled, if it is preferred, but the better practice is to mulch the ground with 3 or 4 inches of fresh horse-manure which has been aerated in thin layers a few days before being applied. The mulch should be applied after most of the fruit has been set. If applied too soon, an excessive vine growth and sparse setting of fruit may result. A mulch of manure keeps the soil in a loose and friable condition; it conserves moisture more perfectly than the most thorough tillage; it furnishes plant-food every time water is applied; it prevents weed growth and saves labor in rendering tillage unnecessary.
The temperature of the house at night should not fall below 60°. From 10° to 15° higher during the day will provide excellent growing conditions. If there is bright sunshine and the ventilators are open, there need be no fear if the temperature should rise to 100°. Some fresh air should be admitted every day, but good judgment should be exercised in ventilating the houses. Excessive watering must be avoided. High temperatures, over-watering, and poor ventilation are responsible for many failures.
Some attention must be given to the pollination of the flowers. Various methods are followed. Some careful growers use a little camel's-hair brush on each flower that is likely to contain ripe pollen-grains, and the grains of pollen are thus carried from flower to flower just as bees and other insects might perform this work out-of-doors. Jarring the plants daily is usually sufficient to get a good setting of the spring and early summer crops. Whatever the method employed, the work should be done, if possible, when there is bright sunshine and the atmosphere of the house is as dry as possible.
Greenhouse tomatoes have certain enemies which must be controlled if a satisfactory crop of fruit is desired. Steam sterilization of the soil previous to setting the plants is practicable in most large greenhouses. This is by far the most effective means of destroying the nematodes which cause an abnormal development of the roots and interfere with the nutrition of the plants. Steam sterilization also helps to prevent some of the diseases to which the tomato is subject. Blight, mold, and the oedema are among the most serious diseases. Frequent and thorough application of bordeaux mixture is valuable in controlling various diseases. The white-fly is the most destructive insect pest. It may be controlled by fumigating with hydrocyanic gas.
Some of the most successful growers are able to obtain yields of ten pounds to the plant for the spring crop. This, however, is considerably above the average when the entire country is taken into account. Six pounds to the plant, for the spring crop, is a good yield, and four pounds for the winter crop is considered satisfactory. An average of 10 cents a pound for the spring crop makes it a profitable undertaking, and 30 cents a pound is not too much for the winter crop.
The greenhouse tomato should be of the highest quality and special care should be exercised in marketing it. Small packages holding about five pounds are preferable. The tomatoes should be clean and wrapped in paper bearing the name of the grower. The grower should be able to guarantee every specimen which is packed in the number 1 grade. CH
Cultivationsn. Planting early, mid and late season varieties will ensure tomatoes throughout the season. Grow in sunny spot with good drainage. Soil should be neutral to a little acidsn, if it's very acid add some sulfur, or if it's very alkaline add lime before planting. Staked and trained plants can be planted 1½ - 3 feet apart, while unstaked/trained plants should be planted 3-4 feet apart. Plant the seedlings deep, up to the first leaves, as they will form additional roots on the buried stem, giving them a healthier root system.
Training the plants to keep them off the ground will help prevent fruit rot and pests on the fruit. Either use a 6 ft. stake, or a wire cylinder made just for this purpose, and sold widely at nurseries (or make a big cylinder from a 7 foot long concrete reinforcing screen with 6 inch mesh, then stake it to the ground, firmly).
Water heavily, and regularly 2-3 times a week, depending on the weather. Rich soil will not require fertilizer, but poor soil could use some Tomato fertilizer.
If night temperatures drop below 13°C (55°F) in the spring, fruit will probably not setsn. You can use fruit-set hormones to speed up production. When temperatures top 38°C (100°F), fruit production also may stopsn, but hormones will not help in this case. It is important then if your climate is extreme to choose varieties specifically for your needs.
Fruit is ripe when coloration is complete and fruit are juicy. Continually harvest ripe fruit to extend season. If frost is going to end the season, pick all fruit including unripe, which can be kept in a dry, dark place at 16-21°C (60-70°F) where it may ripensn. Or you can pickle the green tomatoes.
Hydroponic and greenhouse cultivationGreenhouses. Cultivars like the British 'Moneymaker' and some of the cultivars grown in Siberia have been specifically bred for indoor growing. Starting seeds in a greenhouse (or at least indoors) in more temperate climates during the winter is a common way to get a head start on the growing season. These greenhouse starts need to be hardened before planting outdoors.
Tomatoes are also grown Hydroponically, either for high-density plantings and production, or in hostile climates.
Tomatoes are falsely claimed to be self-pollenating. Outdoors, bees and wind do the trick, but in a greenhouse, pollination must be aided by artificial wind, vibration of the plants (one brand of vibrator is a wand called an "electric bee" that is used manually), or more often today, by cultured Bumblebees.
From seed. Seeds widely available in stores and catalogs, and heirlooms varieties can be grown from seed from your favorite varieties. Plant seeds indoors 5-7 weeks before moving them to the garden in order to get a head-start on the season and production.sn Plant seeds under ½ in. of fine soil, firmed over the seeds, and keep damp. Place in sunny window or cold frame. Temperatures from 18-21°C (65-70°F) are perfect, but anywhere from 10-29°C (50-85°F) will dosn. When seedlings are 2 inches tall, they should be in pots at least 3-4 inches in size. Keep in a sunny spot throughout the growing process. If you buy seedlings at the store, choose the compact and sturdy plants. If they're already flowering or fruiting in a small pot, they are probably root-bound and won't be as productive in the garden.
Pests and diseases
Tomato cultivars vary widely in their resistance to disease. Tobacco mosaic virus is a common problem, so smoking and the use of Tobacco products should be kept away from tomatoes. Different forms of Mildew and Blight are also often tomato afflictions, which accounts for why tomato cultivars usually get marked with letters like VFN, which indicate its disease resistance. V = Verticillium wilt resistance, F = Fusarium Fungus, FF = Race 1 and Race 2 fusarium, T = tobacco mosaic virus, N = Nematodes, A = alternaria leaf spot, and L = septoria leaf spot.
There are countless tomato Cultivars today, and some of the more common are listed below. Heirlooms tend to be grown for their flavor, colors and shapes, while hybrids are chosen for disease resistance, larger crops and uniformity.
Determinate or indeterminate
Tomatoes are first of all commonly classified as determinate or indeterminate.
- Determinate, or bush, types bear a full crop all at once and grow to a specific height; these can work well in containers
- Indeterminate cultivars grow like vines that, continuing growth and production until killed by frost (most, if not all heirlooms are are indeterminate.)
- There are also tomatoes called "vigorous determinate" or "semi-determinate", which stop growth like determinates, but produce a second crop after the first one.
Beyond this, tomato cultivars can be divided into several rough, overlapping categories.
aka main crop, slicing or globe.
- 'Celebrity', 'Big Boy' and 'Better Boy' - widely grown
- 'Heatwave' - popular where summers are very hot
- 'Ace' and 'Pearson' - popular in California
- 'Marglobe' and 'Rutgers' - old favorites
Fruit-set begins at lower night temperatures, and usually do well in cooler summer areas.
Includes: 'Early girl', 'Burpee's Early Pick', 'Pilgrim', 'First Lady', 'Dona'
Require less heat for fruit-set and ripening.
Includes: 'Oregon Spring', 'Swift', 'Manitoba', 'Stokesalaska'
These are usually the first generation crosses between two parent lines, and sometimes indicated with an F1 following the name. Hybrids can fall into any of these categories.
- Yellow and orange fruits - 'Yellow Pear', 'Orange Queen', 'Mountain Gold', 'Lemon Boy', 'Husky Gold'
- Deep reddish black/brown - 'Black Krim', 'Black Prince', 'Black Cherry'
- White fruit - 'White beauty', 'New Snowball'
- Striped fruit - 'Black Krim', 'Green Zebra', 'Tigerella'
- Green fruit - 'Evergreen'
- Hollow tomatoes for stuffing - 'Stuffer', 'Yellow Stuffer'
- 'Long Keeper' - lasts for 3 months in proper storage
- 'Caro Rich' - high in beta carotene (and vitamin A)
aka beefsteak. Grow best where days and nights stay warm.
- 'Beefmaster' -
- 'Beefsteak' -
- 'Big Beef' -
- 'Burpee's Supersteak Hybrid' - 2-lb tomatoes
- 'Delicious' - tomatoes have exceeded 7-lbs.
- Mortgage Lifter (a popular heirloom beefsteak known for gigantic fruit)
aka plum. Used for sauces, paste, canning, drying. Lots of small, oval fruit. Meat is thick with few seeds.
Includes: 'Roma', 'San Marzano', 'Viva Italia', 'Italian Gold' (yellow), 'San Marzano'
aka cherry, marble. Can be as small as a currant.
Cherry: 'Red Cherry', 'Yellow Cherry', 'Red Pear', 'Yellow Pear', 'Juliet'
Very small: 'Gardener's Delight', 'Sweet Million', 'Supersweet 100', 'Sweet 100', 'Santa F1'
- 'Aunt Ruby's German Green' (spicy green beefsteak type)
- 'Azoykcha' (Russian yellow variety)
- 'Andrew Rahart Jumbo Red' (red beefsteak)
- 'Backfield' (deep red indeterminate beefsteak type)
- 'Box Car Willie' (red beefsteak)
- 'Brandywine' (red beefsteak, Sudduth strain)
- 'Cherokee Purple' (purple beefsteak)
- 'Crnkovic Yugoslavian' (red beefsteak)
- 'Earl’s Faux' (pink/red beefsteak)
- 'Elbe' (orange beefsteak)
- 'German Johnson (sweet beefsteak type)
- 'Great Divide' (red beefsteak)
- 'Ispolin' (pink Siberian strain)
- 'Lucky Cross' (bi-color red/orange)
- 'Marianna’s Peace' (red beefsteak)
- 'Mortgage Lifter' (red beefsteak, various strains)
- 'Red Pear' (pear shaped salad cherry type with beefsteak flavor)
- 'Rose' (very large sweet Amish beefsteak type)
- 'Urbikany' (Siberian variety)
Small plants good for Container gardens
- 'Small Fry'
- 'Tiny Tim'
Many varieties of processing tomatoes are grown commercially, but just five hybrid cultivars grown in California constitute over 60% of total production of processing tomatoes.
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963
- Sunset National Garden Book. Sunset Books, Inc., 1997. ISBN 0376038608
- w:Tomato. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
- Tomato QR Code (Size 50, 100, 200, 500)
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