Business

Tips for growing juicy tomato that melt hearts

Tips for growing juicy tomato that melt hearts

Almost every main dish that is cooked is prepared using tomatoes. Tomatoes are also tasty and highly nutritious. That explains why the market demand is high. 

Paul Mwenda, a farmer from Chuka says all farmers need to do is follow the right instructions and they will be happy with the results. He explains how he farms tomatoes in a greenhouse on his one-acre farm. 

There are several varieties of tomatoes including Nyota F1, Rio Grande, Marglobe, Elgon, Anna F1, Faulu, Money Maker, among others.

Seed bed preparation

Tomatoes perform better when transplanted from a seedbed nursery and planted in trays where possible. Good nursery seedbed helps to establish strong early growth. Mwenda explains that seedbeds are prepared by raising soil around 15cm high and leave spaces for walkways of around 30cm or more between beds. The soil should be tilled. Watering is best done in the morning. The seeds are expected to sprout in eight to 10 days. The watering should continue until a week or two before transplanting then it is reduced to harden the seedlings. Seedlings will take about a month before they are ready for transplanting.

“Lookout frequently for pests and diseases, because the earlier they are spotted and treated, the better the survival rate,” says Mwenda.

Transplanting

The nursery should be watered thoroughly before transplanting for ease of uprooting the seedlings. Transplanting should be done using a garden trowel to ensure the roots carry a ball of soil during the process. It should be done early in the morning or in the evening. The seedlings are then planted in holes with a spacing of around 60cm by 45cm.

Tomato Support

This is done by tying a plant vertically using a string and poles. The plants grow vertically having several fruit clusters along the stem.

“Support should be done early after transplanting when the plant is still young to avoid stem damage later on,” he says.

Fertiliser Application

Phosphate fertiliser is applied at the base for root development and urea or CAN for leaf development after transplanting. Urea is applied at two or three weeks or CAN after five weeks.

“Applying fertiliser is done to compensate for soil nutrients deficiency,” says Mwenda.

Watering

Ensure that the plants get adequate water supply. Excessive watering is however not good for the plants as it may cause leaching of nutrients.

Pruning

This should be done on side shoots, old leaves, diseased leaves and laterals.

“Do it weekly to remove side shoots before they develop. Remove suckers that grow on the joint between two branches,” says Mwenda.

Pest and diseases

Look out for signs of blight, mildew, canker, American Bollworm, Bacterial Wilt and Blossom end rot. Farmers should be careful especially during cool wet conditions when blight is most active.

Harvesting

Tomatoes should be ready for harvesting as from the 70th day onwards depending on the variety.

Market

Mwenda says market for tomatoes is available. He sells his produce to individuals, Mama Mbogas and in Markets.