The tomato, whose scientific name is Lycopersicon esculentum, is part of the Solanaceae family and is native to the American continent, particularly in the south-central area: Perщ, Colombia and Ecuador. When he arrived in Europe his fruits were long considered poisonous (as indeed are those of many members of his family). For this reason, for several centuries it was used only for decorative purposes. It should also be noted that at the time the fruits produced were much smaller and less tasty than those we know today, obtained only thanks to accurate crossings and selections.
The hybridization between the 9 different species has given us a very wide range of tomatoes: they can be found in many different sizes, colors and tastes. In recent years, in particular, work has been carried out on the elimination of acid taste and on greater preservability. Great successes on this front have come from the varieties of cherries, datterini and those in clusters.
The Lycopersicon esculentum, originating in the tropical and subtropical areas of Latin America (probably Perщ or Mexico), is cultivated throughout Italy both in vegetable and industrial crops.
The plant normally reaches a height ranging from 50 cm to 2 m. It has hair on both the stem and the leaves and is erect or sarmentous (depending on the type of crop chosen).
The flower usually grows on the opposite side to the leaf and takes on a yellow calyx shape. The tomato berry - of variable shape, size and color in relation to the variety - has a smooth skin and a fleshy pulp with an internal subdivision in loggias, containing flattened seeds of yellow white color.
The various types of tomatoes are subdivided both according to the shape of the berry and to its final use.
They can be:
Depending on the end use, you can have table tomatoes, concentrate, juice and peeled tomatoes.
Generally the recommended varieties for the vegetable garden are the table and preserves, both for the type of cultivation and for the type of use.
The varieties that are recommended for fresh use are the following:
Ace F1 Round. Seed febb / apr. Harvest time / week Climbing
Ausonio F1 Round Semina febb / apr Harvest jug / week Climbing
Monte Carlo F1 Round Sowing febb / apr Harvesting jug / week Climbing
S. Marzano 2 Peretta Semina febb / apr Harvest jug / week Climbing
Rome VF Peretta Semina febb / apr Harvest day / week P. Low
Heart of Ox Cost. Sowing Feb. / Apr. Collection June to September
Ben Hur F1 Cost. Sowing Feb. / Apr. Harvesting June to September
Prince Borghese Cherry Sowing febb / apr Collection jug / week Low Plant
The acronym F1 indicates that the varieties are Hybrid.
Grow the tomato
The cultivation of tomatoes in the open field is quite simple and with a minimum of commitment is within everyone's reach. It is one of the products capable of giving the greatest satisfaction ever: in fact, some aromatic components are lost as the days go by and after refrigeration. The freshly picked product is often much more tasty than what can be found on the market.
The Lycopersicon esculentum plant does not withstand low temperatures. For this reason the cultivation is carried out in the spring-summer period. In southern regions, cultivation can be brought forward by a month or two depending on weather conditions. It can also be grown in greenhouses or tunnels, and in this case it can be grown all year round. Tomato plants are usually transplanted at a distance of 20-30 cm on the row and 1-1.5 meters between the rows.
The preparation of the soil is very important given that the crop will remain at home for more than 5 months. The structure must be well dissolved and fertile. An excess of organic substance can be a source of root rot: for this reason manure is rarely fertilized but mineral fertilizers are preferred.
The tomato has a climbing habit and for this reason a guardian is necessary to support it. The brace must be strong enough to support the weight of the tomatoes. The transplant is usually carried out in April / May in the north while it is anticipated by a month in the center and in the south. It is important, after the transplant, to keep the soil well clear of weeds and this in order to avoid the absorption of water and mineral salts. It is therefore advisable to carry out a slight reinforcement to cover the roots that emerge from the ground. Watering must be abundant and, during the fructification period, it is advisable to add a soluble fertilizer to give a greater nutritional contribution.
A very important operation is the sfemminellatura, which consists in removing the secondary shoots to favor the main shoot.
The collection of tomatoes varies according to the area in which we find ourselves, usually the table ones are still picked green to increase conservation.
THE TOMATO IN BRIEF
|Type of plant||Herbaceous, grown as an annual|
|Form||Climbing or bush|
|Height||From 50 cm up to 5 meters|
|Width||From 60 cm to 2 meters|
|Ideal temperature||20-30 ° C|
|Ground||Not demanding, but rich in organic and well-drained matter|
|fertilizing||Abundant, rich in phosphorus and potassium|
Characteristics of the tomato
The solanum lycopersicum is a lively plant with a short life, at our latitudes used mostly as an annual. It is composed of one or more sarmentose stems that can reach up to 7 meters in length. The leaves are divided into 5-7 light green leaves that emit a strong and characteristic fragrance. Along the stems appear small bunches of yellow flowers. From the leaf axil new stems are continually born: it is what is called "indeterminate growth".
Very often, self-pollination occurs, which is however greatly increased if the flowers are visited by insects such as bumblebees (widely used in greenhouses because they are characterized by a strong vibration capable of dropping pollen on the ovary).
The fruits are characterized by a great variability: they can be round, flat, pear-shaped, elongated, ribbed, heart-shaped. There are also many colors available: red, orange, pink, yellow, white, purple, green and even a very dark red very close to black. The weight ranges from a few grams to even 4 kg. The consistency of the pulp and the taste are decisive for the intended use. Some are better for salads, others for sauces, others for aperitifs. Still others are great to empty and stuff.
Exposure and climate
The tomato is undoubtedly one of the vegetables that need absolutely the most light and heat because the fruits are abundant and, above all, very tasty. In the south they can be grown outdoors for many months a year. In the Center-North, however, full-field cultivation is only possible from mid-spring to autumn. If you want to anticipate or prolong production it is therefore essential to use greenhouses.
In general we keep in mind that with temperatures close to O ° C the plant will surely die. The heat does not even have to be excessive: above 32 ° C there is a poor setting and probably fruit burns will occur. The ideal temperature for growth ranges from 20 to 30 ° C.
This solanacea is not particularly demanding in terms of soil. It prefers deep and humus-rich soils. Even the compact ones are welcome, as long as they are worked very well and a good drain of the water is guaranteed.
Generally we proceed, already from the end of the previous summer, with a light hoeing so as to eliminate the residues of the previous crops. In mid-autumn, on the other hand, you will have to dig at a depth of at least 30 cm while at the same time incorporating organic soil improvers.
Sowing, planting and preparation of supports
Sowing is carried out in the seedbed at the end of winter, then proceeding with the transplant in March (in the greenhouse) or in April-May (in the open ground). The planting distances depend on the variety. The rows are distanced from 70 to 120 cm, on the row instead you have to leave 30 to 60 cm between one plant and another.
Already from the early stages it is essential to provide adequate support. Bamboo or plastic canes can be used, crossed to form a hut (possibly joined at the top by a horizontal barrel, to ensure more stability). However, iron wires or nets can also be used. As the plants grow, they are immediately tied with raffia or a soft plastic tube, because it can later become difficult to straighten them.
THE TOMATO IN BRIEF
|Sowing in seedbed||January March||February March|
|Planting in the open field||March April||April May|
|Collection||May to November||June to October|
The parasites that affect the tomato are innumerable: Colorado beetle, noctua, nematodes, aphids and mites. You can fight with the right mating and / or the use of pyrethrum-based products.
Among the cryptogamic diseases we point out the alternariosis, downy mildew and collar pain. It is important to prevent with regular distribution of cupric products and with careful irrigation. The respect of crop rotation is very important for radical problems.
The most dangerous parasites for the tomato are present in the soil, the Dorifera and the potato nematodes cause a lot of damage to the tomato roots. There may be attacks from aphids that, in addition to damaging the plant's tissues, cause the leaf to curl and are also vectors of viral diseases. To prevent and combat these pests it is advisable to spray the plants with products based on pyrethrum, which in addition to a disinfectant action also have a very low deficiency time which allows the plants to be treated even a few days before the harvest.
Approaches and partnerships
Tomato is a plant for renewal and generally opens up crop rotations. It is necessary to avoid cultivating it after other solanaceae and in any case the ideal is to carry out a three-year or four-year rotation with all the exponents of his family.
However, it can easily follow leafy vegetables, such as spinach and lamb's lettuce (which they can also follow, along with lettuces and onions).
Excellent intercropping with celery, cabbage and nettle. Excellent also with leeks, radishes, spinach, chicory, garlic, lettuce, mint and green beans.
Even for cryptogamic diseases the root system is the most affected. In particular, two fungal diseases are particularly widespread: they are root rot and collar rot. The fruit and leaves are also affected and spots may appear on the reddish amber leaves, and circular bubbles on dark green fruits. To prevent some of these diseases it is necessary to pay particular attention to the quantities of fertilizer and water that we are going to give to our plants. The water balance is of particular importance, which is why it is not recommended to let the soil dry excessively and subsequently soak it to try to remedy it.
Irrigations must be very regular, without ever allowing the soil to dry out, but even stagnating. It is very important to avoid irregular irrigation and during the hottest hours. The thermal shock can in fact cause cracks in the fruits. We also avoid wetting the leaves: this is one of the most frequent causes of the onset of cryptogams.
To get the best from this crop, the ideal is to use irrigation systems with dripping wings or porous tubes, combined with mulching film.
The tomato needs soils that are very rich in organic matter and macro and microelements. These must be readily available for assimilation so that the productive potential is maintained.
It is advisable to proceed already in autumn by spreading 40-50 t / ha of mature or fresh manure, which will be incorporated with plowing or digging.
In the spring, deep furrows will be dug out, at the bottom of which abundant well-seasoned manure will still be distributed (we also take care that the roots of the seedlings do not come into direct contact with the planting stage). All this can then be assisted by the spreading of phosphopotassic fertilizers. Thomas slag and wood ash are very suitable. However, it is possible to use synthetic products, always taking care that phosphorus and potassium are abundant. The foliar fertilizations and the administration of liquid products through irrigation also give excellent results.
The cultivation treatments are innumerable.
First of all it is very important to weed the foot of the plants to keep the soil well permeable to water and free of weeds.
A few weeks after planting it will be necessary to tuck the base in such a way that the plant is well established and develops new superficial roots.
Scacchiata and topping
As we have said, the tomato is a plant with indeterminate growth. This means that from every leaf armpit new jets are continuously created; the first consequence is that the primary jet will be weakened and the fruits will struggle to grow and reach full maturity.
To optimize the harvest it is important to dedicate oneself, at least weekly, to chipping by eliminating all these lateral jets, possibly before they exceed 3 cm in length.
Another important operation is the topping. When individuals have covered all the support we had prepared we will have to intervene by cutting the top. In this way the vertical growth will not continue and the plant will devote itself to the setting and maturation of the fruits present.
Collection and storage
Traditionally, tomatoes for sauces or preserves are harvested when they reach full maturity. Those for fresh consumption should instead be harvested at medium maturity, to prevent them from losing their consistency, transportability and shelf-life.
At home, avoid placing them in the refrigerator, as they would lose a good part of their taste. Let's keep them in a cool environment, along with other fruit.
Tomato - Lycopersicon esculentum: Variety
The varieties are really innumerable and every area of Italy has its favorite ones.
Basically we can remember those cherry (Pachino type) or datterini. Perini or the famous San Marzano are excellent as a sauce. The ox hearts, ribs and table rounds are excellent from raw.
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