There’s nothing like enjoying a homegrown tomato

Store-bought tomatoes never taste as good as ones that are homegrown. It is a combination of the just-picked taste and the different varieties available. Each tomato variety offers a very distinct taste that can be attributed to the amount of sugar and acid in the fruit. Growing conditions also have an impact of the flavour and texture.

Store-bought tomatoes never taste as good as ones that are homegrown.

It is a combination of the just-picked taste and the different varieties available. Each tomato variety offers a very distinct taste that can be attributed to the amount of sugar and acid in the fruit. Growing conditions also have an impact of the flavour and texture.

If there is room in the garden, try different varieties of tomatoes. Heritage tomatoes often have a very full flavor. They also offer great visual appeal as they come in a number of colours and shades.

Tomatoes are a long season crop and must be planted out as bedding plants once all danger of frost has past. Even then, covering the plants at night will increase the plants’ ability to produce tomatoes. The flowers will not set tomatoes if the night temperature is too cold.

For tomato plants to thrive, they need plenty of sunlight, nutrients, water and heat. They do best in a south exposure where a building or fence traps sunlight, increasing the temperature.

As the fruit consists of water, an ample supply increases the fruit yield. Plants that are watered irregularly often develop blossom end rot, ruining the fruit. Avoid wetting the foliage as it will contribute to the development of mildew.

Tomatoes are grouped in two categories by how the plant grows: determinate and indeterminate.

Determinate plants are also called bush tomatoes. The plant will produce many stems from the bottom, and grow to a certain height, then stop. New growth will consist of new branches. Flowers followed by fruit will appear on all branches.

Cages, stakes and ties are required to keep the plants upright and off the ground.

Indeterminate varieties grow upward forever and can stay in production in a warm climate or greenhouse for a number of years. The central stem, along with three or four side shoots, should be left intact. All other side shoots need to be removed as they start to grow.

Indeterminate varieties grow tall and need to be staked accordingly, with a tall stake or tied to string that is suspended from a higher structure. As the plant grows, continue attaching it to the stake or wrap it around the string. A third alternative is to place it in a large cage.

Insects and wind pollinate tomatoes but it doesn’t hurt to give nature a hand. The flower is complete with both a pistil and stamen. Gently jiggling the plant will cause the stamen to touch the pistil and self-pollinate. According to scientists, the optimum time for pollination to occur is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. There are products on the market to help pollinate tomatoes but they rarely produce better results that a slight shake.

Fertilize regularly to insure the plants have all the nutrients required to thrive. Look for a fertilizer that is high in potassium and potash. These are the second and third numbers in a fertilizer formula, and they are primarily responsible for the formation of flowers and fruit. Nitrogen, the first number, increases the amount of leaves formed. That is not something that is wanted in tomato production.

Most importantly, follow the instructions on the fertilizer package. It is designed to get the most out of the plants.

Everyone has room for at least one tomato in the garden. If there isn’t a garden, place a potted plant tomato on the deck or front step. Tumble tomatoes require little room and care while providing a multitude of small snacking tomatoes.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached your_garden@hotmail.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glen Carritt is organizing a United We Roll Canada convoy that will travel to British Columbia in June. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

European Union Ambassador to Venezuela Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa meets with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza at his office in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The meeting was called after the EU sanctioned an additional 19 Venezuelans for "undermining democracy and the rule of law" in Venezuela and the National Assembly declared the EU ambassador "persona non grata." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Sanctions prompt Venezuela to expel head of EU delegation

Sanctions prompt Venezuela to expel head of EU delegation

Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman departs a ceremony memorializing U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, as an urn with his cremated remains lies in honor on a black-draped table at the center of the Capitol Rotunda, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Relatives of inmates cry outside the Centro de Privación de Libertad Zona 8 prison where riots broke out in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Deadly riots broke out in prisons in three cities across the country due to fights between rival gangs, according to police. (AP Photo/Angel Dejesus)
Gang clashes result in Ecuador’s deadliest prison riots ever

Gang clashes result in Ecuador’s deadliest prison riots ever

El Chapo’s wife goes from obscurity to celebrity to arrest

El Chapo’s wife goes from obscurity to celebrity to arrest

This combination photo shows notable cast members from the musical "Rent," from left, Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Rubin-Vega. The New York Theater Workshop will celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Rent” with a gala on March 2 that will be available to stream through March 6. (AP Photo)
La Vie Boheme: ‘Rent’ musical celebrates 25th anniversary

La Vie Boheme: ‘Rent’ musical celebrates 25th anniversary

This cover image released by Knopf shows "Speak, Okinawa," a memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina. (Knopf via AP)
Review: ‘Speak, Okinawa’ is a masterful memoir and more

Review: ‘Speak, Okinawa’ is a masterful memoir and more

FILE - Yara Shahidi arrives at the 51st NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, Calif., on Feb. 22, 2020. Shahidi not only stars in the young adult dramedy “grown-ish,” but she also serves as an executive producer. The 21-year-old, who swaps out reading scripts for text books as a Harvard student, says she’s equally invested in what happens behind the camera. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Yara Shahidi doesn’t use her voice just to hear herself talk

Yara Shahidi doesn’t use her voice just to hear herself talk

This image released by CBS News shows the logo for the new "60 Minutes Plus" program. CBS News says it is launching a streaming version of "60 Minutes" on the new Paramount Plus service, starting next week, hoping to expose the durable brand to a younger and more diverse audience. (CBS News via AP)
‘60 Minutes’ will have streaming spinoff on Paramount+

‘60 Minutes’ will have streaming spinoff on Paramount+

Most Read