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TOMATO

Solanum lycopersicum

Tamatie (Afr.)

Solanum lycopersicum is a species that originates from South America, it was brought to Europe by Spaniards in the 1500s. It produces yellow flowers which develop into fleshy red fruits, called tomatoes. 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!

Planning

Difficulty
Moderate
Flowering time
Summer, Spring
Fruiting time
Summer, Autumn

Harvesting

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.

Propagation

Seed
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.
Cuttings
Cutting root easily if placed in a glass of water.

Special features

Crop rotation
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require well-fertilized soil. Rotate annually to prevent nutrient depletion of the soil.
Pot plant
Can be grown in a container provided it is at least 60 cm wide and deep.
Attracts useful insects
Insects such as bees.

Geography

Origin
South and Central America, Mexico.
Natural climate
Temperate

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Loam, Sand, Compost, Clay
Soil PH preference
Neutral, Acid, Alkaline
Frost hardiness
Half-Hardy

Uses

Edible
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.
Medicinal
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant. It contains vitamins A, B, C and K as well as minerals like potassium and calcium.

Personality

Family
Solanaceae
Flower colour
Yellow
Scent
None

Problems

Pests include cutworms, hornworms and bollworm, aphids, cabbage loopers, whiteflies, tomato fruitworms, red spider mite, slugs, and Colorado potato beetles. Diseases include the tobacco mosaic virus, blight and various forms of mildew.

Companion plants

Companion plants can provide an alternative landing point, reducing the probability of pests landing on your tomato plant. Some such as chives and basil may also subtly affect the flavour of tomato fruit. Ground cover plants, including mints and oregano, can act to stabilize moisture loss around tomato plants and add a few degrees of warmth to the soil. Tomatoes come from humid climates, thus companion planting like this can help prevent moisture-related problems like blossom end rot. Tomato plants can be companion plants for asparagus. They can help protect from asparagus beetles due to the substance solanine they contain. Asparagus plants contain asparagusic acid, which repels nematodes that are known to attack tomato plants. Marigolds also repel nematodes.

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