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To plant tomatoes, you need to gather as much information as possible. This article will give you in-depth information that will guide you in growing tomatoes.
TOMATOES are among the most popular vegetable across the world. It takes around 50 to 100 days to grow tomatoes, from seedlings to harvesting. The time of growth for TOMATOES is dependent on the variety and the climatic conditions.
Table of Contents
- Growing tomatoes from seed to fruit
- Caring for tomato plants
- Guarding TOMATOES against pests and diseases
- Fruiting of tomatoes
- Conclusion on How Long Does it Take a Tomato Plant to Fruit?
Tomatoes are warm-season plants, and they grow best in areas where they receive six to eight hours of sun and temperatures of 65° and 90°F (18-32°C); for this reason, you can only grow during summer.
People prefer to grow plants in their home gardens as they are easy to grow, have good returns, and don’t require much space. If you want to grow tomatoes, you should know, “it takes how long for tomatoes to fruit?” This is a critical question as it will help you make the right timing to grow your tomatoes.
Growing tomatoes from seed to fruit
As you grow TOMATOES, you need to understand there are different varieties. These tomato varieties take different growth periods, from seed to germination, flowering, and fruiting to maturation. There are generally two types of tomatoes determinant and indeterminant. Under these two varieties, you will find different tomato cultivators from which you can choose.
Determinant TOMATOES are also known as bush tomatoes and grow to a height of 1.2 to 1.5M. Their growth also stops once it starts bearing fruits. For this variety, all the plant fruits ripen within two weeks, after which the plant dies.
However, indeterminant tomato varieties continue bearing fruits and producing new flowers until the end of the season. Indeterminant variety is also less resistant and grows best indoors. These TOMATOES grow to a height of 6ft or 1.8M and require more proper management. Their fruit-bearing period is also more extended, and they stop bearing fruit and die as soon as the year’s first frost begins.
As you choose between these two, it is essential to note that indeterminant tomato varieties require more space, grow taller, and require support to stay off the ground.
Growing tomato seeds
Bearing in mind, “it takes how long for tomatoes to fruit,” you can now plan when to grow your seedlings. Depending on the climatic zone, the best time for planting seeds is during the last days of winter or early spring.
It would be best to plant tomato seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. With this time plan, your seeds will be ready for transplant in spring. The period of germination and early days are critical for the survival and quality of tomato seedlings. Also, as the seeds germinate, they are most vulnerable to environmental changes.
Tomato seeds germinate within five to twelve days of planting. Here are some tips for growing tomato seeds:
- Sow seeds in pots with draining holes and light potting mix. The soil is well-drained and rich in nutrients.
- Sow three seeds a half-inch deep and an inch apart.
- Tomato seeds require temperatures of 65-86°F (18-30°C) to germinate, and the soil temperatures should be 86°F (30°C).
- Place the pot in a good spot where it receives six to eight hours of sunlight. You can also place the seedlings under a fluorescent light two inches or five centimeters above other plants.
- After planting, you should avoid overwatering and moisten the starting mix.
- Covering the pot with a plastic dome will help regulate the germination conditions in terms of temperature and humidity. It also helps retain moisture within the pot, reducing the need for watering. However, you should remove it as soon as the seedlings start to sprout.
- At temperatures of 75°F (24°C) or warmer, the seeds should germinate for five to seven days.
- Once the seedling reaches a height of two or five centimeters, you can clip away the weak plants and retain the strong ones.
- Grow the seedlings at temperatures of 60° to 70°F (15-21°C)
- Let a fan breeze over the seedlings a few hours a day to enable them to grow strong stems.
- Seedlings are ready for transplant two weeks after germination. Transplant the plants into larger pots of ten centimeters or four inches.
- As you pot off the seedlings, be careful not to damage the roots.
Prevent tomato seedlings from getting leggy by adding additional light is required. If you find your seedlings are always getting leggy on you, light is just one factor that could be causing it. To learn more about stopping your seedlings from getting leggy, check out this article, where I go in-depth.
Transplanting tomato seedlings
In spring, two to three weeks after the last frost, the garden soil has proper temperatures for tomato growth.
The perfect time for transplanting tomatoes to the garden is when the nighttime air temperature is 50°F (10°C), or warmer and outdoor soil temperatures are 55°F (13°C).
Within the first two weeks before transplanting, you should set the seedlings out to harden and acclimatize while protected from direct sunlight. These plants will die if temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C). For this reason, you should cover them if it threatens to frost.
The spacing of plants is critical. Different tomato varieties have different spacing requirements: bush varieties require 24 inches or 61cm spacing. At the same time, the indeterminant varieties are planted 36 to 48 inches (90 to 122cm) apart.
As you transplant, remove the lower set of leaves, leaving the topmost two sets of leaves. Tomato seedlings are sown deeper into the soil than they initially were in the pot.
You should, therefore, bury the tomato stem in the remaining leaves. Once buried, the stem will develop new roots to help absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
It also helps in keeping the plant sturdy. Moreover, this compensates for the roots that were injured during potting off.
One issue when at the seedling stage is a process called damping off. this can kill the tomato plant, and there are many factors to consider. If you want to learn more about tomato seedlings damping off, then you can read that article here.
Immediately you transplant the seedlings, water them and give them a B-1 solution to help with transplant shock.
Tips for preparation of tomato planting site
Important to note is that tomatoes require full sunlight for eight hours. They also need well-drained with adequate levels of moisture retention. The PH requirements for tomato growth are 5.5 to 6.8.
Prepare the site by adding two to four inches of commercial organic planting mix or healthy aged compost manure. Before planting, turn the soil to a depth of 30centmetres or 12 inches.
If you are using a container or a pot, it should be large enough with adequate drainage. Also, get as much soil as you can. When using tomato grow bags, then using tomato halos would be an excellent way to increase the depth of soil.
Caring for tomato plants
Here are some tips that will help you in nurturing your tomato plants to good health and high productivity:
- Tomatoes require moist soil; avoid overwatering the soil and keep it from drying up.
- As you water the plant, avoid wetting the leaves and always pour water at the plant base.
- When plants start curling, it is not always a sign of disease. It could be withering due to insufficient moisture. If this happens, immediately provide slow and deep watering.
- You can mulch with straws or aged compost to retain moisture for longer. This will prevent water from evaporating faster from the soil.
- Use dilute kelp meal or fish emulsion for side dressing every three to four weeks.
- At midseason, add aged compost around the plants.
- Add crushed eggshells to spot water to compensate for the calcium levels in your plants. This will also reduce the risk of blossom end rot.
- You can also use compost tea every two weeks to provide supplementary nutrients and nitrogen.
Supporting tomato plants
Always put in place the support for your TOMATOES during transplanting. You have options to support your plants, including trellises, stakes, and cages. It is essential to support your plants to keep them off the ground, making them susceptible to rotting, insect pests and diseases.
If you use stakes, you must prune your tomatoes, retaining one or two stem leaders. Tie the leaders to the stake by use of elastic horticultural tape.
Using trellises, use a galvanized mesh of 6 inches or 15 cm horizontally and stretch it between two stakes 8 feet apart. You will be tying the vines to the mesh as they grow.
Guarding TOMATOES against pests and diseases
Pests that commonly attack tomatoes include:
Guard tomatoes against cutworms
These are a type of pests that live in the soil and mainly attack tomato seedlings. They are, however, preventable by the use of paper collars. Cutworms can be a real problem when growing tomatoes. This post will show you what they are and how to ensure you don’t suffer their onslaught.
Guard tomatoes against aphids
Aphids attack the plant by sucking juices off the stem, and you can use a strong spray of water to knock them off. And you can read more about aphids and how to get rid of them here.
Guard tomatoes against whiteflies
Whiteflies carry bacteria and viruses, which they transfer to your plants once they land on them. You can get rid of whiteflies by spraying the plants with insecticidal soap. This article will help you deal with whiteflies.
Guard tomatoes against tomato hornworms
They are green caterpillars that defoliate the leaves. You get rid of them by hand or spray them with spinosad.
Guard tomatoes against tomato fruit-worms
These pests bore into the fruit and can be prevented using insecticidal soap.
Tomatoes can be affected by viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases. Some of these diseases are treatable; however, they affect plant yield. The primary way to prevent infection of tomatoes is to get rid of debris in and around the garden. I wrote an article about the diseases that your tomato can have.
This section will look at the most common tomato diseases and how to prevent them.
Verticillium and fusarium are fungal diseases that cause wilting in tomato plants and are caused by water retention problems such as overwatering or wet weather.
Early blight and late blight are also fungal diseases that accompany warm, humid weather. These fungi cause yellow discoloration on the lower tomato leaves and stem.
Bacterial diseases cause black spots on the plant leaves and stem.
Herbicide injury or mosaic virus: causes the leaves to grow in a distorted manner. The common cause is the touch of tobacco on tomato plants.
To avoid infection, always wash your hands before touching the plant. To contain the spread of diseases, permanently remove infected plants as soon as you notice the disease.
Disease-resistant varieties are easier to manage. As you purchase your seeds, always go for disease-resistant varieties.
Suppose you’re worried about the diseases that can affect growing your tomato. I have a video about the diseases of tomatoes and how you will deal with them. Watch it below.
Fruiting of tomatoes
TOMATOES start to flower within 30 to 45 days after transplantation, at a height of 30 to 45 centimeters (12 to 16 inches). The flowers are usually yellowish, and they begin to fruit after 9 to 14 days.
During fruiting, the plant starts producing bulges in the center. The tomato uses all the nutrients in flowering and fruit formation during this phase. The flowering and fruiting periods will, however, depend on the variety.
Important to note is that not all flowers will develop into fruits, as others will fall off. Tomato flowers also do well with cross-pollination. They, therefore, require some airflow for this to occur. Once the fruits start to form, they will take up to 30 days to mature and ripen.
Conclusion on How Long Does it Take a Tomato Plant to Fruit?
You now know how long it takes for tomatoes to be fruit. I have also informed you how to care for the plant to maturity and common diseases to watch out for.
You can now put these skills into practice during the next growing season. As a parting word: Always choose the most appropriate tomato variety; that is easier to manage and has a good yield.
Tomatoes are great to grow, especially if you follow the basic rules and methods. I wrote a detailed article on growing tomatoes at home to ensure perfect results every time. Read that here.
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