How and when to sow the tomato

How and when to sow the tomato

Tomatoes are one of the most grown vegetables in gardens, also because they are among the most used at the table. In the Mediterranean diet, tomatoes are often eaten fresh in salads, but above all they are indispensable for Italian cuisine in the form of a sauce: to dress pasta and on pizza.

This vegetable grows on a fairly demanding solanaceous plant in terms of nutrients, temperatures and sun exposure. For this it is important to know how to sow tomatoes at the right time, so that they find the best climate to ripen the fruit.

On Orto Da Coltivare it is therefore a duty an in-depth study of the sowing operation, going to see everything in detail: how to do the work, in what period and with which moon phase to do it and what distances to keep between the plants. Anyone wishing to continue the discussion on this crop can read the guide to tomato cultivation, which explains how to grow the plant and safeguard it from adversity with organic methods.

When to sow tomatoes

The ideal for sowing tomatoes is to have a temperature of just over 20 degrees, to ensure good growth to the seedling you must be sure that it never suffers from the cold: therefore, the temperature should not drop below 12 degrees even during the night. . This means that if we wanted to sow tomatoes directly in the field we would have to wait until April, in some areas even May.

Sowing in the seedbed

Sowing can be anticipated if it is done in a sheltered seedbed, earning a couple of months. In the seedbed, the right time for sowing is the month of February or March, to then transplant into the garden once the seedling is developed and especially when the temperatures remain permanently above 10/12 degrees. Anticipating sowing is very convenient because the period in which the crop produces is lengthened, consequently the harvest increases.

How tomatoes are sown

The tomato seed is very small: in each gram of seed there are about 300 seeds, for this reason it must be placed a little deep in the ground and it is advisable to plant more than one seed in each jar or in each stall.

Sowing in the field. If you want to place the seeds directly in the field and avoid having to move the plant, you will have to prepare a fine and leveled seedbed, where you can bury the seeds at a shallow depth (about half a centimeter), arranged according to the chosen plant layout. Planting this crop in the vegetable garden can only be convenient for those who grow them in areas with a very mild climate, on the coast and in southern Italy, where it is cold throughout March, it is better to resort to the seedbed.

Sowing in a seedbed. The advantage of the seedbed is the possibility of anticipating the time of sowing by up to two months. Furthermore, transplanting seedlings that have already been born avoids the risk of leaving empty spaces in the rows of the garden, in case some seeds do not germinate. This vegetable is sown using honeycomb containers or jars, to be filled with soil suitable for sowing, perhaps enriched with earthworm humus. The seed is placed on the surface and covered with a veil of earth, and then compacted slightly by pressing the soil with the fingertips.

Whether sowing outdoors or in seedbeds, it is important to wet immediately, and also in the following days with daily regularity: as long as the plant has not developed its root system, it must never lack water.

Buy or reproduce seeds

Those who want to sow tomatoes can choose whether to reproduce the seeds from their own crops from year to year or to obtain them from other growers through seed exchange, or even buy them. Having to buy them, I recommend choosing organic certified seeds and avoiding F1 hybrid varieties (to learn more you can read what hybrid seeds are).

There are numerous varieties of tomato, the best thing is to choose old vegetables or those resistant to adversity, which are the most suitable for the organic garden. On Orto Da Coltivare you can find an article that tells you about some excellent tomato varieties.

Taking the seeds from the fruit is simple, you must then let them dry to have them for the following year. It must be borne in mind that the seeds are not inert but are living matter, they must be carefully stored away from humidity and heat, if they are not sown during the year they age. The tomato seed has a good germination duration and can be stored for four or five years.

The moon phase in which you sow

The tomato is a fruit vegetable, so the phase of the moon that according to peasant beliefs should favor its development is the growing one. In fact, it is believed that the influence of the moon pushes the energies present in the plants upwards during the growing phase, stimulating the production of leaves, flowers and fruits. However, it must be specified that there is no scientific proof of this, which is why everyone can evaluate whether or not to follow the moon in defining the sowing period, reading the in-depth study on the moon in agriculture can be useful to get an idea, while the moon calendar is useful if you decide to follow the phases to decide the sowing periods. Personally, I sow tomatoes or other vegetables according to the moon only if I have the time, too often it is the busy agenda that tells me when I can work in the garden.

Sixth of planting: distances between plants

Whether you choose to put the seed in the garden or whether you choose to transplant the seedling, when the tomato reaches its destination it is important that it is at the right distance from other plants. Each crop has its own need for living space: growing plants too close together facilitates the spread of diseases and decreases their productivity. The correct planting pattern for tomatoes varies greatly depending on which type we have chosen. There are tomato varieties with dwarf plants that do not grow very vertically but grow horizontally. Other climbing varieties, on the other hand, have a more important growth but climb on the supports and therefore want less space, however, supports must be prepared.

As an indication, a distance of 50 cm can be kept between indeterminate growth plants or climbing varieties, leaving a greater measure (70/100 cm) between the rows that allows for a comfortable passage. Plants with determined growth, on the other hand, need at least 70 cm between the plants, while between the rows we can also calculate 120 cm.

Seedbed: prepare the soil

Before sowing the tomato in the field, the soil must be prepared so that it is fertile and draining. The traditional method is to do a good digging job, where the soil is very compact, it is better to repeat the work two or three times, after a week. The hoe is useful for breaking the clods and any roots of wild herbs, which will be cleaned with a rake. Compost or mature manure should be incorporated by hoeing the soil, better to do it a month before sowing or transplanting. The seedbed is leveled with a fine-toothed iron rake, removing large stones.

After sowing in the seedbed: transplanting

If we have chosen to sow in pots, we will then have to transplant the seedlings in the field, once our tomato is sufficiently developed and once the external climate is mild enough not to create problems for this crop.

To learn more about this topic, you can read the article on how to plant tomatoes, which explains the technique in detail.

Video: Grow with Me - Tomatoes. Ep 2