2 years to reach maturity
Roughly 45-90 days until maturity. Ripe tomatoes are firm but slightly soft and a deep ripe colour and varying sizes. Fruit bruises easily so only "palm" the tomatoes, don't squeeze. Gently pick them off the stem once ripe or remove a branch and allow to dry while picking the fruit as they ripen.
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Tomatoes come from the plant Solanum lycopersicum. It is a perennial species from the Solanaceae family. It originates from South America and was brought to Europe by Spaniards in the 1500s. It produces yellow flowers which develop into fleshy red fruits, called tomatoes. Though a perennial species, it is often grown as an annual for the most efficient vegetable production. Tomatoes are fruits but they are typically used as culinary vegetables. Growing tomatoes can be tricky but is very rewarding if done right. Grow more than one variety, as some will suit your area better than others. Tomatoes come in a wide range of cultivars suited to specific conditions and uses. From juicing, salad tomatoes, and just eating off the vine. They can come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colours including striped varieties and even heart-shaped fruits!
Common problems with Tomato
Tomatoes are prone to caterpillars, aphids, Whiteflies, spider mite, slugs, snails and leaf beetle damage. The common diseases include the tobacco mosaic virus, blight, and plant mildews.
Tomato Companion Plants
Interplanting your tomatoes with other strong scented plants can help to mask the tomato plant from unwanted pests. Examples of these are the onion family (Chives, Garlic) and the mints (Spearmint, Oregano and Basil). The most commonly used is Tagetes patula (French marigold), although some believe it can subtly change the flavour of the fruit. Grow Borage, Queens Anne Lace, Parsley and Dill to protect against Tomato Hornworm. These flowers will attract adult parasitic wasps and other predatory flies that feed on their umbellifer flowers. The larvae of these wasps feed on the Tomato hornworm, while the flies will feed ob various tomato pests. Asparagus produces Asparagus acid. When grown near tomato plants, this acid will repel nematodes that are known to attack. Tomato plants also protect Asparagus as they contain Solanine, a type of poison that kills the Asparagus beetle. Ground cover plants, including mints, stabilize moisture loss around tomato plants and other Solanaceae, which come from very humid climates, these can help prevent moisture-related problems like blossom end rot.
How to propagate Tomato
Sow indoors and transplant seedlings once they are 15-25 cm tall. Bury at least two-thirds of the stem to encourage root growth and a stronger plant. Space seedlings 60 cm apart and water thoroughly.
Cutting root easily if placed in a glass of water.
Special features of Tomato
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require well-fertilized soil. Rotate annually to prevent nutrient depletion of the soil.
Can be grown in a container provided it is at least 60 cm wide and deep.
Attracts useful insects
Insects such as bees.
Other uses of Tomato
Culinary, climbing, greenhouse, container, fruit, food. Leaves are poisonous if eaten.
The fruit is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks made into juices, dried or preserved.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant. It contains vitamins A, B, C and K as well as minerals like potassium and calcium.