Showing posts with label Growing Tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Growing Tomatoes. Show all posts

Friday, 12 February 2016

Growing tomatoes after many failures

Tomatoes - A common fruit in every Indian Kitchen that is involved almost in every course of Indian food.This post will be a draft of my experience in growing these berries in my Roof garden in Chennai.

My gardening friends are experts in growing tomatoes , but I am on other side failed many times to grow these berries.

Initial Story:
When I decided to sow seeds for tomatoes, I started with a country tomato seeds which I got from the market. 

      STEP 1 : Removed seeds from a country tomato
      STEP 2 : Washed it and soaked it over night
      STEP 3 : Kept them in a paper towel and allowed them to germinate .


  •    Throw these seeds along with the kitchen water.
  •    They will grow by them-self at right time.
  •    Later you can transplant them to bigger pots once they grow big.

Out of 7 tomato plants in my garden, only 2 are grown with the careful seed processing method. Remaining five are adopted ones(YES , I adopt tomato plants that I found on my way home). In these 7 plants each one is of different shape and sizes. I couldn't recognize them by name , but I love their shapes and colors. Dark red - pale red - Orange - Green - yellow colored tomatoes are the end products of my R&D division in my Terrace Garden.

As said, this easily grown plant germinated at one shot and then it was over crowded in my paper towel.
Slowly they were distributed to all my friends who actually got inspired by seeing their germination rate(They are not gardeners so over enthusiastic reaction)

My Plants First Disease: 


One fine day when I saw my tomato plants their leaves looked curly and they were curled and bend down.So this is the first disease which affected my tomato plant to a person who doesn't know anything about plants and their disease.

The BIG Mistake:
When I became popular among  my colleague on my roof garden, I started getting more reviews and suggestion. Once suggestion was to spray tobacco syrup on rose plants.Being so clever I used them on my tomato plants too... Within days all my tomatoes got the TMV(Tobacco Mosaic Virus) and I couldnt control them. All my plants died and I have to throw them out of my garden to save other plants.

Tobacco is useful in targeting caterpillars, aphids, and worms, but got to know later that it is not safe to use on peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, or any member of the solanaceous plant family.

Common Plants in solanaceous plant family:
Leaf Curl disease(Cucumber Mosaic Virus):
Some viral infections caused leaf rolling in my tomatoes.The solution is to discard the plant as soon as possible. But I couldn't go that cruel to kill my lady who has fruits all over her. Here comes My plant doctor(Mr.Anoop Kumar) for rescue and he guides me to use Chilly turmeric spray first. Worst case he asked me to use pseudomonas (5 ml in 1 litre water )for 3 days  and trichoderma (5 ml in 1 litre water ) after 15 days.

The Other Main Villain: Mealy Bugs

  STEP 1:

       Killing all visible Mealy Bugs by hands is one my practice that showed me good result.

  • Killing these insects in the plant will send alarming message to   other bugs and they will soon move away from your plant. 
    • This worked for me 100% and now I am practicing that every time for all my plants. 

      STEP 2:

      Remove the Mealy Bug affected plant parts. 
     Check lower side of your plant leaves when your plants show a sign of tiredness... These insects happily suck all your plants nutrition by sitting behind  the leaves. Remove those leaves before it spreads to other parts of plants. It worked for me in Bitter gourd and Snake Gourd plants too that was affected by aphids rather. 

      STEP 3:
      Wash your plants with GCT pesticide 
    Spraying this spray didn't solve my problem. Mealy Bugs later covered my tomatoes shoot and their leaves are curled and didn't allow the flowers to bloom.So I washed my entire plant with the diluted version of GCT pesticide. Wear a glove and wash your plant covering stems and leaves. Give them a full bath . Avoid watering your plants for a day. 

      STEP 4:
    If you are about to throw your sprouted onions and garlic WAIT..... Dont throw them, rather just throw them on your grow bags . Let them sprout and grow big. Crush their leaves when you water or weed your veggie . The smell from these leaves will not invoke any aphids. I have onions and garlic plants growing in almost every plant. Just 1 or 2 is fine . But it has good result. Didn't work well with Mealy Bugs

       STEP 5:
         Keep plants that will lure Alphids & Mealy Bugs

    If your follow steps from 1 to 4, where will these bugs go. They will either die or they will find your next plant. But we can give another solution for this. Try planting some plants that attracts these bugs. I planted Tuber-rose , Mums(Chrysanthemum) . Now I could see them jumping from my vegetable plants to these plants. I later cut these flowering plants as soon as they get affected. I wont spray GCT over them. Even portulaca and Purslane(Table roses) attracts these bugs. 

        STEP 6:
        Cut off the wilted plant parts and suckers.
    Dried leaves & Stems are of no use . They can be the breeding ground for other insects. So remove them with sharp cutters . I remove them when they turn yellow . Also remove the leaves that are very close to your ground cover. 

        SUCKERS:  They are the additional shoots that comes between your main         stem and lateral leaves. Remove them as they serve no purpose other than       sucking plant nutrition.

       STEP 7:  Mulching
    This is important so that the moisture in your soil is not drained out by the scorching sun and also to protect from insects.When ever I find a weed, I cut them into pieces and will use them as mulch.

      STEP 8:  Wood Ash
    Spray them to kill these mealy bugs. I haven't tried that yet .. but this is 
    I have gone through many websites and blog that tells about this fancy word called caging.
    Until then I knew this world only for animals that need to be CAGED and not for my plants. 
    For me this makes no big difference. I was just thinking of our farmers. Do they do it in their farm? Then what is the point in complicating simple things. 

    Here are the few Pros and cons that I have gone through for caging

    PROS :
    • Provide shades for the fruit and prevent sun-scald(This happened to one of my tomatoes , where the bottom part was very close to a wall)
    • Not to worry on pruning, pinching off the suckers, or training the plant.
    • Retains Moisture of soil (prevent cracking and blossom end rot)
    • They can fall any time damaging the entire plant
    • More dense , more time to ripe
    I don't want to invest much on these caging structure. So here are my alternatives.

    . I tie them to a post with long cloth string.

    . Rest them near my walls with a trellis made out of wires and used cloth ropes 


    I am having tomatoes that are enough for my family. Its almost a month now that I stopped buying tomatoes from market(From January 2016 - Feb 2016 and it continues)
    So back to the growth chart, My lady grows high and she sets up her flowers in almost all bunches. I waited for that little fruit to peep out of her calyx, but she wilted the very next day.I thought I was unlucky. But the truth is this concrete jungle has no bees or butterflies to do the pollination work. So I did Hand pollination.

    Hand Pollination:

    Not a fancy word or process. Just rub two fingers in the center of the flower. Tadaaaa... I saw that little fruit. Now I have bunches of tomatoes in my garden and my son picks them every morning for my kitchen.

    • Vermi-compost 
    • Bone Meal
    • Fish Meal
    • Starch water from kitchen
    • Neem cake
    • Pongamia cake
    • cow dung
    • Rock Phosphate
    • Epsom Salt

    Make your potting mix with good dose of nutrients before transplanting your tomato plant. These plants grow very fast and they need nutrition at every point of time. I use my default potting mix(Coco-peat + vermi + bone meal + fish meal + Neem cake + pongamia cake + cow dung). Adding to this , I used organic NPK fertilizer where in the above mentioned ingredients are mixed in right proportion. With one of my gardening friends advice , I used Rock Phosphate at the time of flowering and it shows effective result too. Animal manures are the alternatives to Rock phosphate so try those too if you cant afford to pay for Rock phosphate. You can also use Epsom salt that enhances taste of your tomatoes. But I haven't tried it yet.

    Best time to grow tomatoes: The plants that sprouted on October is giving me fruits till February. So now the calculation is yours. 3 months to start yielding. I can comment on this topic only after doing extensive testing.