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How to Grow Tomatoes

Single Stem Method.

Cultural work during the growing season consists of removing the side shoots which appear in the axils of the tall upright growing varieties. Rub them out when about 2 inches long. On no account leave them until they get very hig and have to be cut out with a knife as this only takes the strength away from the plant. Pinch the top out, when four trusses have been made, one or two leaves above the last truss. 96

Multi-Stem Method.

This method produces the heaviest crops of all and as much as 301bs. per plant can be gathered from plants trained in this way. For these it is necessary to put up strong wires between posts with the wires 6-8 inches apart in the same way as wires are arranged for fruit trees. The plants are planted 4 feet apart and when they are a foot high the tops are pinched out and four or five side growths are trained fan­wise on the wire. These in turn are stopped after four trusses have been made on each. Trained in this way, as many as 16-20 trusses on one plant are possible but, of course, to produce this weight of fruit extra food must be given. Tall varieties can be used for training in this way and excellent results have also been obtained with the variety Stonors Dwarf Gem. The reader must be warned, however, that this method is only practicable below a rough line drawn across the country starting at the Yorkshire-Lincolnshire boundary. Feeding should be adjusted according to the growth made, which in turn depends on the fertility of the soil, and season. A rough guide, however, is that if the stems are thick and the leaves lush, the plants will not require any fertilisers. Watering with loz. of sulphate of potash once or twice during the season will, however, tend to check exhuberant growth and improve the quality of the fruit.

Watering with super­phosphate at the same rate when the fruit is of usable size will accelerate ripening. For normal purposes, weak liquid manure made by suspending animal droppings in a tub of water, given at fortnightly intervals, or alternatively about four applications of a good organic tomato fertilizer during the season will produce a good crop.

Raising Plants.   

Nothing hasbeen said so far about raising plants which is normally done by sowing seeds in a heated greenhouse from December on­wards for earliest crops under glass, up to August when plants are raised in a cold frame for winter fruiting.

For many people this is not a worthwhile proposition as It entails the maintaining of a temperature of IO-13"C for a long period. Plants raised under. cooler conditions from seed sown in April will be suitable for outside culture, as the hardier they are raised the less will be the shock and check to growth when they are planted in the open garden.  Where plants are bought from a nurseryman it is strongy ad~l~ed that an order be placed several months ahead.

Do this In wnung and state clearly for what purpose they are required, warm green­house, unheated greenhouse, or outdoors, giving the date on whl~h they are required. This will greatly assist. the nurseryman and will enable him to arrange his programme With the greatest benefit to the customer. Avoid if possible, the casual last minute purchase of plants from a shop or market stall for if tomato plants are chilled they will take weeks to recover even under the best of conditions.
piccolo tomatoes

piccolo tomatoes . . yum

If you do fetch your own plants from the nursery, see that each plant is rolled in a sheet of newspaper to protect it from cold winds. As was said at the beginning of the chapter, the tomato is easy to grow but it will not tolerate sudden changes of temperature, and exposure to a low temperature and especially cold winds, will set them back two or three weeks.

Varieties.

Ailsa Craig, an old but excellent variety remarkable for its good flavour; Best of All, smooth fruit of good form With few seeds; Big Boy, a very large variety, the fruits often weighing more than one pound and therefore suitable for slicing; Harbinger, a heavy crop­ping early tomato for greenhouse and outdoor use; Moneymaker, medium sized fruits of good quality; Outdoor Girl, an early variety

Pests and Diseases.

The diseases of tomatoes like those of the potato are many and quite a number attack the plants for the simple reason that they belong to the same family group. At the same time many arc preventable diseases and a strict attention to cleanliness and hygiene in garden and greenhouse will materially reduce the risk.

Cleanliness in a garden does not mean a well-cut lawn or a well. kept path or border, but the prompt removal of all diseased anc decaying debris and the efficient disposal or deep burying of diseased fruits, mildewed leaves and the like, as eggs of pests and spores 01 diseases are carried over from one season to another and from om crop to another. Thus, what may have started off as a mild attack may develop into an epidemic and what is more, soil and buildings and fittings may become so infested and infected that the growing of certain crops may have to be discontinued. In the greenhouse adequate ventilation is essential-advice easily given and written but often difficult for the amateur gardener to translate into the everyday acts of opening and closing doors and ventilators, and quite frankly, can only be acquired by the perception of a plant's comfort and response. As all greenhouse plants are in the first instance outdoor plants an appreciation of this will help. remembering that they want fresh air without cold draughts. Outdoor tomatoes have far fewer troubles than those grown in greenhouses due to the fact that the plants are hardier and get an abundance of fresh air. For the full treatment of tomatoes under glass the reader must seek this in books written specifically on this subject. The most serious troubles likely to attack outdoor tomatoes arc fungus diseases but if the plants are sprayed with a good fungicide such as Bordeaux mixture at the stage when the fruits on the lower trusses are about the size of marbles it will give them a protective film. Do not be alarmed at the bluish coating which appears on the leaves at first, this is harmless and is the protective film referred to. In some diseases, birds pecking the ripening fruit may be the most serious pest and to avoid damage, gather the fruits when they begin to change colour and place in a dark drawer. Exposure to sunlight IS not necessary for the ripening of tomatoes, actually they do this more readily in total darkness.

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