Tomatoes Indoors and Outdoors
For an early crop of tomatoes under glass, seed should be sown in a warm greenhouse during January or February. In unheated houses it is not wise to start until early April. For outdoor planting, seed is best sown in a warm greenhouse in mid-March. In all methods the seeds should be sown very thinly in well-drained pots or boxes filled with a good seed compost. Cover with a light sprinkling of fine soil and place a pane of glass and a sheet of paper over each receptacle until germination takes place. Then give as much light as possible. Prick off into similar trays and compost when the seedlings have formed two rough leaves each, spacing them 2 in. apart each way. When they are about 4 in. in height, pot singly in 3-in, pots, and when these are full of roots remove to 4- or 5in. pots. For these later pottings use a rougher compost. This same compost, with the loam in lumps about the size of a small hen’s egg, will also do for the final potting or planting. The plants can be fruited singly in 9tin. pots; in boxes about 1 ft. cube; in 10in. diameter bottomless rings standing on a 6tin, thick layer of washed boiler ashes or small gravel ; or they may be planted 18 in. apart in rows 2 ft. apart direct in a bed of soil prepared on the floor or staging of the house.
Remove all side growths, and keep each plant to a single stem. Water freely and, when flowers appear, syringe the plants each morning to assist pollination. Top dress the soil with finely broken cow or horse manure when roots appear on the surface, and from the time the first fruits start to swell feed once a week with tomato fertilizer.
Temperature throughout should range from 60°-70°. It will not matter if it runs up to 80° at times so long as ample water and ventilation are given. When in full crop the plants may easily require a gallon or more of water each daily. Top ventilation should be given whenever outdoor conditions allow, and side ventilators and doors left open in hot weather.
Outdoors, tomatoes may be planted in early June. Set them 18 in. apart, and if there is more than one row, let these be at least 3 ft. apart and run north and south. Remove all side shoots and pinch out the top of each plant when it has formed four trusses of flowers. Stake each plant securely, and in addition tie up each truss of fruit so that it gets as much sun as possible. In September it may be advisable to remove some of the lower leaves. Tomatoes can also be grown by the ring culture method.
Bush tomatoes are grown in the same manner except that they are not restricted to a single stem but are allowed to bush out and each stem is tied to a stake or horizontal wire.
Some reliable varieties are Eurocross A, Ailsa Craig, Potentate, Plumpton King, Market King, E.S.I, Stonor’s Exhibition, Moneymaker, Kondine Red, Stonor’s M.P.,
Hertford Cross, Ware Cross, and Sunrise. Golden Sunrise has yellow fruits. For outdoor planting, Harbinger and Outdoor Girl are recommended. A good bush variety is The Amateur.
Foes most to be feared are leaf mould, potato blight, virus, streak, wilt (sleepy disease), collar rot, and white fly.