Tomatoes are consumed in various ways. Many people use these fruits for cooking purposes, such as to make chili sauce or cook vegetables. Tomatoes can also be consumed directly for juice or as a complementary vegetable salad.
They contain a variety of nutrients, such as vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, and fiber. Thus, tomatoes offer many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels, preventing diabetes, reducing the risk of prostate cancer, preventing stroke, and maintaining healthy skin.
In view of the benefits and uses for daily consumption, tomato plants become a potential agricultural commodity for cultivation.
Don’t bother to think about a large space. You can plant tomatoes in a limited land area, such as in the yard or by using pots. If you are interested in growing tomatoes, you may take a note about the following information.
Ideal Environment for Tomato Plants
The plants require an ideal environment to grow strong and produce delicious fruits. Because of that, before planting tomatoes at home, you must consider whether your home conditions are suitable for growing tomatoes.
Basically, they can grow anywhere, depending on the variety. Tomato plants can grow well in the highlands (> 700 m dpl), midlands (200-700 m dpl) and lowlands (< 200 m dpl).
However, temperature affects the growth of tomatoes, especially their color. The ideal temperature for an even red tomato color is 24°C–28°C. Tomatoes also need sufficient intensity of sunlight for around 10-12 hours every day.
Besides that, you must pay attention to the level of humidity, because high humidity is not good for the growth, production, and quality of tomatoes. The relative humidity required for tomato plants is 80 percent.
To make a healthy growth, tomato plants need a fertile soil with a little bit of grit, acidity (pH) between 5-6, lots of humus, and regular and sufficient watering from planting to harvesting.
Types of Tomato Plant Growth
Based on the type of growth, tomato plants are classified into three types:
1. Determinate tomatoes are varieties that grow to a certain point. The plant’s growth ends once the flowers and fruits have ripened. Therefore, the stems cannot grow tall. The height of the plant reaches only around 50 cm – 80 cm. The harvest time is relatively short and the stem growth is fast. If you want your plant to grow taller, you should not cut the shoots that grow in the axils of the leaves too early.
2. Indeterminate tomatoes are varieties that continue to grow even if the flowers and fruits keep growing. The harvest age is relatively long while the stem growth is relatively slow. The height of the plant could reach around 160 cm – 2 meters. Despite the ability to grow tall, these varieties only last for 4 months.
3. Semi indeterminate or intermediate varieties, are somewhere between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. This type can produce hybrid varieties that have the characteristics of both tomatoes. It grows moderately and not too fast.
How to Grow Tomatoes
It is actually very easy to grow tomato plants because the treatment is quite simple. You can plant tomatoes in the yard, using polybags or pots. Following are steps to grow tomatoes:
1. Preparing the Seeds
To grow tomatoes, you can use ready-to-grow seeds sold at farm stores or use self-dried seeds. When buying ready-to-use seeds at a farm store, be sure to choose seeds that have good quality and have been certified.
To get seeds from dried tomato pips, you must do several steps.
First, choose the best ripe tomatoes, cut them in half, then scoop out the pips with a spoon and place them in a clean bowl.
After that leave the tomato pips in a bowl for 2-3 days. This is a fermentation process that aims to prevent diseases that can attack the plant when it grows back.
Following the fermentation process, clean the pips by soaking them in water with a few drops of vinegar and salt. Pay close attention during this washing process, you should remove the floating pips because they mean bad quality. Then dry the pips.
After the pips dry, store them in plastic. Then, keep them in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. The seeds are ready to be planted.
Spread the seeds in polybags during the seeding process so that tomatoes can grow easily. Put 2-3 tomato seeds into a polybag, then cover them with a thin layer of soil. Leave the seeds for one week.
Put the polybags in a shady place. Once in a while, expose the seedling pot to the direct sunlight for several hours. Don’t forget to water the pot with a little water to keep it moist.
3. Move the Plant to Your Garden or Pot
If the tomatoes have grown about 4-5 cm, move the plants into pots or yard. Do not forget to water the tomato plants regularly and fertilize them.
Tomatoes can usually be harvested after 2-3 months of planting. Once they are ready to be harvested, their outer skin will have turned reddish and the fruits become quite large. You can also pick them as needed, green tomatoes are usually used for sauteing or making chili sauce.
There are several things to consider when you plant tomatoes:
1. Don’t plant the seeds too tight
Tomato seeds should be planted not too tight so that the roots can grow freely. If you plant tomatoes without gaps, their growth will not be optimal.
2. Adjust the lighting
If you want to get a tomato plant that bears heavy fruit, make sure the plant gets proper lighting. In its growth period, a tomato plant needs a lot of direct sunlight.
If you can’t expose the tomato plants to a lot of direct sunlight, you can use artificial plant lighting.
3. Strengthen tomato stems
To grow strong, a tomato stem needs to adapt to the environment. If you plant tomatoes outdoors, the stems will move and sway with the wind. But if you are growing tomatoes indoors, you will need to set up a fan to create an artificial breeze.
Try to direct the fan to the tomato plant for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this method twice a day and your tomatoes will gradually grow stronger.
4. Remove the old leaves
When a tomato tree reaches more than 1 meter tall, cut the old leaves. If not cleaned, the fungus will infect the growth of tomatoes.
During the growth process, older leaves get less sunlight and water. Since they stand at the bottom, any pathogen becomes more easily attached. As a result, old leaves become the first place for fungus to multiply. In addition to cutting old leaves, spraying tea compost can also prevent fungus.
5. Water regularly
If you don’t water your tomato plants regularly, the tips of the plants will rot and crack due to lack of calcium. It is best for you to water the plants twice a day. When the weather is hot, you can water the tomatoes with more water to prevent them from drying out. When the tomatoes start to ripen, you can reduce the amount of water to make their taste more delicious.
Proper Fertilization for Tomato Plants
There are two phases of fertilization in plants, namely, basic fertilization and supplementary fertilization. Basic fertilizers are given at the beginning of processing and land preparation, while supplementary fertilizers are given after the plants are planted to supply nutritional needs while the plants grow and develop.
The application of supplementary fertilizers is divided into three phases, namely, the vegetative phase (early growth), generative (flowering and fruiting) and the enlargement or fruit ripening phase.
The recommended fertilizer for tomato plants is NPK Pelangi produced by PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT). The results of the demonstration plot conducted by the company showed that the use of NPK Pelangi is able to increase the productivity of tomato plants. NPK Pelangi contains a complete nutrition that tomato plants need.
The functions of nitrogen (N) in NPK Pelangi are:
– To make plants greener
– As a constituent of protein, chlorophyll and plays a role in the process of photosynthesis
– To help the formation or growth of vegetative parts, such as leaves, stems, and roots.
– To accelerate plant growth.
The benefits of phosphorus (P) in NPK Pelangi are:
– To strengthen roots and shoots
– To accelerate flowering and fruit/seed ripening, thereby accelerating the harvest period.
– To increase the percentage of flowering process into fruit.
– To arrange and stabilize cell walls, thereby increasing plant resistance to pests and diseases.
Meanwhile, the functions of potassium (K) are:
– As an enzyme activator. There are about 80 types of enzymes whose activation requires potassium.
– To help the absorption of water and nutrients from the soil by plants.
– To help transport assimilated products from leaves to plant tissues.
– To strengthen plant resistance against pests and diseases.
The NPK Pelangi fertilizer also has many advantages, including:
– Urea granules is a slow release nitrogen fertilizer. Thus, the nitrogen lasts for a long period.
– Other nutrients can be added such as secondary macronutrients (Ca (Calcium), Mg (Magnesium), and S (Sulfur)) and micronutrients (Fe (Iron), Mn (Manganese), Cu (Copper), Zn (Zinc). ), Mo (Molybdenum), B (Boron), and Si (Silicon).
– DAP material contains 18 percent nitrogen and 46 percent phosphate (P2O5) with 95 percent solubility.
– Easy to apply, the fertilization is more effective and efficient.