Lycopersicum Esculentum Mill, the latin name for tomatoes, a type of vegetable and fruit that is quite well known and easy to find. It is usually cooked into chili sauce and ketchup, as an additional ingredient in various types of dishes, as well as into drinks such as juice.
Besides being cooked, tomatoes can be consumed raw. It tastes fresh, sweet, and a little sour. The appearance of the tomatoes themself is quite beautiful, smooth, shiny and bright red when it is ripe. No wonder many people like it.
Not only does it taste good, tomatoes have a large amount of nutritions and vitamins, one of them is vitamin A which is good for the eyes. Furthermore, tomatoes are also effective for improving the digestive system, lowering cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease, preventing cancer, strengthening bones, maintaining healthy skin and also preventing depression.
The tomatoes are a favorite plant to cultivate since they have a myriad of benefits, both in the garden and in the yard. Cultivating them is quite easy to do and does not require a large area.
The first thing to do before planting tomatoes is to choose good quality seeds. You can easily get them in farm shops and through eCommerce.
Good quality tomato seeds can also be made from fully ripe tomatoes, as farmers do. Remove and clean the tomato seeds. After that, dry them in the sun, until it only 6% moisture content remains.
The type of seed must also be adapted to the local planting areas. Choose them that are suitable for upland and lowland. The varieties of Ratna, Pearl, Emerald and Opal refer to the lowlands. Meanwhile, the highlands include varieties of Diamonds, Pearls and F1.
There are also several types of tomatoes that are suitable for planting in both areas, such as produced by seed producers from Panah Merah products.
After getting the right type of seed, you can continue planting it in your yard or simply using a pot. Here’s how to plant them in the land and in pots, also their care that you can follow easily.
How to plant tomatoes at homeland:
- Choose land with full sun and well-drained soil. It is important that the land receives at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.
- Two weeks earlier, dig the soil 30 cm deep and mix it with compost.
- The distance of the plants should be about 60 cm.
- Place tomatoes or cages on the ground at planting time to avoid future root damage.
- Pinch off a few of the lower branches on transplants, and plant the root ball deep enough so that the remaining lowest leaves are just above the surface of the soil.
- Water well to reduce shock to the roots.
How to grow tomatoes in pots:
- Use a pot or large container with drainage holes at the bottom.
- Use soil that is not too compact so the water flows well. A good soil mixture with added organic matter is recommended.
- Planting per pot. Choose from shrub or dwarf varieties, many cherry tomatoes do well in pots.
- Place the pot in a sunny place with full sun for 6 – 8 hours a day.
- Keep the soil moist. Planting them in containers makes the soil dry out faster than in the garden, so check them daily and provide additional water.
Tomato plants care:
- Water the tomato plants in the morning. This gives them the moisture that it needs to get through a hot day. Avoid watering in the afternoon or at night.
- Apply mulch (a plant cover material to keep the soil moist and suppress the growth of weeds and diseases) five weeks after planting.
- To help through periods of drought, find several flat stones and place one next to each plant. Rocks prevent water from evaporating from the ground.
- Apply fertilizer or compost every two weeks, starting when the tomatoes are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
- As they grow, prune leaves to optimize the growth. It also helps prevent disease from spreading from the soil to the leaves.
- Tomatoes can be harvested at the age of 2.5 to 3 months.
- The tomatoes that are ready to harvest are half of them have changed from green to red, and also marked with old leaf edges that have dried up.
- After picking, do not place them in the refrigerator or it can ruin the taste and the texture.
Tomato Plants Fertilizing
As one of the popular cultivated horticultural crops, the success of the tomato harvest is determined by nutrition. Planters must understand the nutritional requirements for tomatoes in each phase. One of the recommendations for tomato plants is NPK Mutiara fertilizer.
In the vegetative phase, tomatoes, which are included in the Solanaceae group, require higher nitrogen than other elements. Nitrogen (N) functions as a component of enzymes and proteins that play a role in plant metabolism. By fulfilling these essential nutrients, we can optimize plant height.
Meanwhile, in the generative phase, tomato plants need potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), and Boron (B) more than other nutrients. They need potassium to increase the nutrient uptake process by plant roots and produce more photosynthate. Thus, the weight of the tomatoes increases.
Calcium has an important role in maintaining quality, cell integrity, and growth. If these nutritional needs are fulfilled, then the number of tomatoes that have blossom end-rot (BER) will be less than the number of normal fruits. BER itself is a physiological abnormality in tomato plants due to lack of calcium during fruit formation.
Pruning Functions on Tomato Plants
Pruning is one of the important treatments in cultivating tomato plants so that productivity is maintained. Leaf trimming serves to optimize the growth because too many leaves can interfere with it.
Tomato plants that have many leaves and branches generally produce small fruit. That is because the nutrients obtained from photosynthesis are not maximally absorbed because they have to share them with lots of leaves.
In addition to optimizing growth, pruning is also useful for regulating humidity and preventing pests and diseases.
Summarized from Pertanianku.com, there are three types of pruning techniques on tomato plants, as follows:
- Shoot Pruning
Too many shoots on tomato plants can interfere with plant growth itself. You need to adjust the number of shoots for high productivity and maximum fruit development.
Especially the shoots that grow between the stems need to be trimmed so that only the main stem and leaves are left. Pruning can be done manually using sterile hands by pinching the shoots.
- Stem Pruning
Stem pruning is done when two leaves grow above the fifth fruit bunch. The goal is to accelerate the ripening of tomatoes. However, if there are strong shoots on the stems around this fifth fruit bunch, they don’t need to be pruned.
Tomato plants will have good productivity if they only have 2-3 branch shoots on each stem. Pruning can be done using a sharp knife.
- Fruit and Flower Pruning
Pruning tomatoes and the flower itself also need to be done to maximize their growth. Ideally, each tomato plant should only produce 6-8 fruits per period.
By reducing the quantity of fruit, the quality can be significantly improved. The fruit that is left untreated will grow optimally until it reaches premium quality. However, if the expected fruit quality standards are not too high, for example for the local market, it is not necessary to prune them. (*)