Genus: Solanum Lycopersicum
Tomato and its origins
Originating in South America, the tomato is a native of the area between Mexico and Peru. It arrived in Europe in 1540, brought by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, one of the first to lead the Spanish colonisation of the Americas.
Cultivation started in the second half of the seventeenth century, predominantly in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region which had a much more favourable climate.
The fruit originally had a distinctive gold colour, hence the name Pomo d’oro, meaning golden apple. The word tomato itself translates as “swelling fruit”. Over time, different cultivars were produced and a colour change occurred, turning the tomato from golden to its most common, red colour.
How to Plant Tomato
A native of very warm climates, the tomato requires warm, temperate conditions to thrive and as a result, is often cultivated in greenhouses in colder regions and Northern Europe. The optimum temperature is 20-24 ° C. This plant is very sensitive to the cold.
Tomatoes grow in any soil type but prefer more balanced soils that range from slightly acidic to moderately alkaline. It should be moisture rich but not water logged and the plant needs watering regularly. Ensure that the soil is rich in organic matter.
Fertilising is an essential part of tomato plant care. Pre-planting, the soil must be prepared well in advance, fertilising with Phostrogen Tomoato Food . Then during cultivation, there are at least three more fertiliser applications. At the first stage of fruiting, when the first flowers appear and at the second flowering, applying a similar dose of fertiliser as the pre-planting application. For the third and fourth application, vary the dosage.
When the tomatoes are in full bloom and bearing lots of fruit, add a water-soluble fertiliser to the irrigation water.
In warmer regions, seeds can be planted directly into the soil between March and May, where they will easily germinate when planted in a sheltered space receiving direct sunlight. Seeds should be planted in rows with a space of 20-60cm between each seed hole and 1-1.5m between each row. Indoor growing or protected seedbeds are sown from December to February, placing 3-4g of seed per m² at a depth of 2-5mm.
For ease, seedlings can also be purchased from nurseries and are planted in the same conditions as those mentioned above.
As it grows, the tomato requires support from a brace or wire frame.
When to harvest the tomato
In bloom the tomato plant has yellow flowers and produces fruits that have a fleshy pulp with small seeds. There are a large number of species that range in size and shape from tiny tomato berries right through to large beefsteak tomatoes. They can be round, oval, elongated, grape and cherry in shape.
The tomato begins to bloom in summer and should be harvested when the fruit is ripe, although some harvest salad tomatoes a little sooner to retain their firmness.
Did you know:Similarly to other vegetables in the family, such as the Aubergine, tomatoes contain solanine which can make the green sections toxic.
It is considered to be anti-arthritic, soothing and refreshing. The raw tomato contains lycopene that is an excellent natural remedy to fight against free radicals.
Adopted into national cuisines across the globe, it is eaten in salads, grilled or stuffed and present in a wide variety of sauces.
It was once believed that the tomato had aphrodisiac properties and so the French originally christened it pomme d'amour, "apple of love".