From sowing to harvest: Alexandra's Tomato Diary

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In the editorial department of MEIN you get a lot of information about gardening. Unfortunately, I do not belong to the garden owners, so I absorb the knowledge and would like to try everything that goes with my modest possibilities. Granted, tomato gardening is a rather banal topic for gardening professionals, but for me it's a great start as you can enjoy the fruits of your work yourself. I'm curious what happens and hope you follow my project. Maybe we can talk about it together on Facebook!

July 31, 2016: Fifteen weeks later

Summer, sun, tomatoes! The day of my first tomato harvest is getting closer and closer. The conditions have - thanks to the weather god - greatly improved. The rain and the relatively cold July temperatures seem to have finally turned their backs on southern Germany. Currently we have between 25 and 30 degrees - me and especially my tomatoes, these temperatures are more than right. My former tomato babies are already really big, but the fruits are still green. It may only be a few days before the first reddish discoloration is seen. But I can not wait to harvest my tomatoes. To further support the maturation process, I have re-fertilized something. I used my organic tomato fertilizer and some coffee grounds - this time I had Peruvian beans in the fully automatic machine. They seem to like my tomatoes particularly well - whether that's because the coffee and tomatoes are both from the South American highlands? Now I hope that the ripening process is a bit faster and that I can harvest the first tomatoes very soon and make good use of them in the kitchen. Incidentally, I simply tied my tomato plants with a string to my balcony space instead of pressing a tomato palate into the balcony box. So they get exactly the hold that they need, so as not to break off. And that's how my heavily laden tomato plants look like:

Green and almost ripe tomatoes

Hopefully, my tomatoes will soon be ready for harvest

July 24, 2016: Fourteen weeks later

Juhu - soon is harvest time! It will not be long before I can eat my bar and cocktail tomatoes.
The anticipation is rising and I'm already thinking about what to make of my tomatoes. Tomato salad, tomato juice or just tomato sauce? With tomatoes you can do so much and they are healthy on top of that. Nutritionists even recommend eating four medium-sized tomatoes a day - so our daily vitamin C requirement is covered.
A combination of carotenoids and vitamin C should also protect against heart attacks, as it prevents the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries. What many do not know: Tomatoes are real
Good mood makers: The contained in the tomato amino acid tyramine is said to have a positive effect on our mood, according to nutritionists.
The well-known "anti-hangover reputation" of tomato juice is of course not to be forgotten. Because of its high mineral content, tomato juice compensates for the derailed body chemistry after exaggerated consumption of alcohol. Incidentally, I always require tomato juice on the plane - this also helps against travel sickness, dizziness and nausea, especially on long flights.
I have always wondered why tomatoes are actually red. The reason for this is that tomatoes have a high content of fat-soluble color pigments, which are also called carotenoids. However, tomatoes are not always red, there are also orange, yellow and even green varieties: Some seed suppliers have a great variety in the program and the older, seed-fixed varieties have been rediscovered for several years. What I'm going to do with my tomatoes in the end, you will learn next week. And this is how my tomatoes look like right now:

Tomatoes on the balcony

My self-grown tomatoes are soon ready for harvest

July 17, 2016: Thirteen weeks later

My giant tomato plants have finally conquered the balcony. More than three months ago they were still tiny seeds, today the plants are no longer overlooked. Apart from caring for my tomatoes and hoping for warmer temperatures, I can not do much right now. My current tomato care program, I can easily summarize: pouring, vomiting and fertilizing.
Depending on how hot it is, I pour about one and a half liters of water per tomato plant every two to three days. As soon as I see even the smallest sting gust, I break it off carefully. My tomato plants were already fertilized. The next time I fertilize, three to four weeks have to pass. Should I realize, however, that they are weak, I would provide them in between with some coffee grounds.
I can not wait until my first tomato tomatoes are finally ready for harvest. Especially this guy is well-known that he can be used well in the kitchen. The fruit weight is, depending on the variety, at about 60-100 grams. I am also looking forward to my little cocktail tomatoes. I am a big fan of cocktail tomatoes, because they have a particularly intense taste because of their high sugar content. They are usually 30 to 40 g in weight.
By the way, did you know that tomatoes come from the South American Andes? From there, the plant genus reached today's Mexico, where the indigenous peoples cultivated the small cherry tomatoes. Incidentally, the name tomato was derived from the word "Tomatl", which means "thick water" in Aztec. In my native Austria, tomatoes are funnily called Paradeiser. Once, especially beautiful apple varieties were called paradise apples - this then went on to the tomatoes, which were compared because of their beautiful colors with paradise apples. These are just tomatoes for me, beautiful juicy paradise apples!

Tomatoes on the balcony

My tomato plants are hard to miss

July 10, 2016: Twelve weeks later

My first tomatoes are coming - finally! After fertilizing my tomato plants with coffee grounds and organic tomato fertilizer, the first fruits are now forming. They are still very small and green, but in one to two weeks they will look very different! In these summery temperatures, they can only mature quickly. Fertilizing with coffee grounds was very easy. After my coffee grounds container was full, I emptied it - instead of disposing of it in the garbage bin - directly into the planter of my tomatoes. I have distributed the coffee grounds evenly and carefully with a rake about 5 to 10 inches deep incorporated. Then I added organic tomato fertilizer. I have used this as described in the instructions on the package. In my case, I have sprinkled two tablespoons of tomato fertilizer per tomato plant. Like the coffee grounds, I carefully worked the tomato fertilizer into the soil with a rake. Now my giant tomato plants should have enough food to grow as well as before and make beautiful plump tomatoes. And this is how my tomatoes look like right now:


My first tomato fruits are growing

July 3, 2016: Eleven weeks later

Thanks for your helpful tips that I got on Facebook. Horn shavings, guano fertilizer, compost, nettle and many more - I have thoroughly studied all your tips. I would prefer to avoid fertilizing, but also tomato plants need food to grow strong and healthy. However, I would never use chemically prepared fertilizers such as blue-grain. I want to be able to enjoy my tomatoes with a clear conscience.
Since I live in the middle of the city, but I'm a bit handicapped: I'm very difficult to compost, chicken manure or lawn cut ran. That's why I have to use the funds available to me. As a passionate coffee drinker, I consume two to five cups of coffee every day. In a week comes so pretty much coffee grounds together. Instead of disposing of it in the dustbin, as usual, I will now feed it to my tomato plants every two weeks. In addition, I will fertilize my tomatoes every three to four weeks with an organic tomato fertilizer made from natural raw materials and with a high potassium content. One tip I found particularly interesting: the ausgeizten shoots or leaves easy to use as a mulch. Of course, I will try this too. I hope my tomatoes get all the nutrients they need for healthy growth through these different organic fertilizer variants. I am very curious how my fertilized tomato plants develop. How I did fertilizing I will report next week. And this is how my giant tomato plants look like:

Tomato plants on balcony

Tomato plants eleven weeks after sowing

June 26, 2016: Ten weeks later

Thank you for your useful tips! I have finally spiked my tomato plants. With more than 20 helpful tips & tricks I could not really go wrong. All the shoots that grow from the leaf-axle between stalk and leaf have been removed with great care. The Geiztriebe were still relatively small - so I could break them off simply with thumb and forefinger. I will also remove the large leaves of the tomato plants, as they consume too much nutrients and water and also promote fungus and brewing strength - thank you again for this helpful tip!

One tip I found particularly interesting: tomato plants from time to time with diluted milk and pour with nettle. The amino acids in the milk serve as a natural fertilizer and also act against brown rot and other fungal diseases - very worth knowing! I will definitely try this tip. Incidentally, this process can also be applied to roses and fruit.

Another great tip against brown rot: The bottom leaves of the tomato plant just make it so that they are not stuck in the damp soil and moisture can not get over the leaves to the plant.

In my region last week unfortunately heavy storms raged. The many rain and wind have taken my tomatoes quite a bit. Despite the fallen leaves and some side shoots, they continue to shoot upwards. Every day they also increase their volume and weight. The wooden sticks previously used as a support have already reached their limit of load. Now it is slowly but surely time that I take care of a tomato palate or a trellis for my tomatoes. I would most like to have a functional but also beautiful climbing aid - preferably made of wood. I'll see if I can find something suitable in the trade - otherwise I'll just build the plinth help for my tomato plants myself.

An interesting recommendation was also to fertilize the soil with some blue fertilizer and horn shavings. But as a gardening newbie, I would like to know if it is really necessary to fertilize self-sown tomatoes? If so, which fertilizer should be used? Traditional fertilizer or coffee grounds - what do you think? I will get to the bottom of this topic.

Excavated tomatoes

Ten weeks after sowing, I've been picking my tomatoes

June 19, 2016: Nine weeks later

My tomatoes are - despite the bad weather - excellent! I was afraid that the heavy rain of the last weeks would be difficult for them. My biggest concern, of course, was the spread of cabbage. Luckily my tomato plants do not stop growing. The tomato stalk is becoming more robust from day to day and the leaves are unstoppable - but this also applies to the Geiztriebe.

Tomato plants should be spiked regularly, so that the plant as large and ripe fruits forms. But what exactly does "Auswizen" actually mean? It is simply the snapping off of the infertile lateral shoots that grow from the leaf axils between the shoot and petiole. If the tomato plant is eliminated, the growth power of the plant is more in the shoots than in the fruit - the tomato harvest is much lower than that of a spicy tomato plant. In addition, an unexhausted tomato plant is so heavy in weight on their part drives that it breaks off very easily.

So my tomato plants need to be quickly extracted - but I have never done anything like this before. I've already got some helpful tips in the editorial, but I would be interested to know what kind of advice the MEIN community has on this topic. Maybe even someone has a detailed Ausiz-Manual ready? That would be great! And that's how my tomato plants look like right now:

Tomato seedlings nine weeks after sowing

Nine weeks after sowing, my tomatoes are developing magnificently

June 12, 2016: Eight weeks later

Two months have already passed since I sowed my tomatoes - and my project is still running! The growth of my tomato plants is progressing at an impressive pace. The stalk has now assumed a very robust form and the leaves are already juicy green. You also smell really tomatic. Every time I open my balcony door and a breeze blows in, a pleasant tomato scent spreads out.

As my students are currently in a very intense phase of growth, I thought it was time to move them to their final location. On my balcony, I have built-in planters, which are also great for tomato plants - so I really only had to worry about the purchase of suitable soil.

My fast-growing tomatoes are starving for nutrients - that's why I decided to spoil them with a high-quality vegetable soil. I enriched the soil with some organic fertilizer, which I simply incorporated in the reaction.

Of my initial twelve small plants are now only three left. The fourth tomato plant is - I can reassure you - not received. I was generous and gave them to my sister-in-law - unfortunately, their self-seeded tomatoes gave up their spirits early on. And as you say: Only shared happiness is real happiness. And that's how my tomato plants look like right now:

Tomatoes on balcony

On my balcony I have built-in planters, which are also great for tomato plants

June 5, 2016: Seven weeks later

I have hope again! Last week, my tomato plants were a little weak - this week things are very different in my tomato kingdom. Nevertheless, I have to get rid of bad news in advance: I lost another four little plants. Unfortunately, they were attacked by the most dangerous tomato disease: cabbage and brown rot (Phytophtora). It is caused by a fungus called Phytophthora infestans, whose spores are spread by the wind over long distances and on fast-moist tomato leaves can quickly trigger an infection. A high humidity and temperatures and 18 degrees Celsius favor the infestation.I had no choice but to remove the infected little plants and put an end to their young tomato life. Oh, that makes me very sad - I had them, even if it was "only" tomato planting, already really nice won. But now for the good news: the survivors among the tomatoes, which have survived the last - weather technically rather difficult - weeks, have had an enormous growth spurt - they are now the right plants, finally! The era in which I was allowed to call them tomato babies and small plants is now officially over. Next, I will put the sun lovers to their final location: a balcony box with nutrient-rich soil. Next week, I'll tell you how it was when I planted it. And this is how my beautiful growing plants look like:

Tomatoes seven weeks after sowing

Seven weeks after sowing: My tomatoes have a huge growth spurt behind them

May 27, 2016: Six weeks later

Thanks for all the tips I got on Facebook last week! After six weeks I draw my first learnings. The main problem: My tomato plants have an acute problem with light and heat - that's what I've come to realize. The spring temperatures are particularly changeable this year, so it's not surprising that my seedlings grow very slowly.
Earth theme: After I had peckered the plantlets, I have put them in fresh potting soil. Probably, growth in normal nutrient-rich potting soil would have worked better. The plantlets would probably develop much faster and more robust. For next year I know so!
As far as casting is concerned, however, I am very careful. The warmer the days, the more you pour. But I never pour too cold water - I do not want to frighten the plants with ice-cold water.
Anyway, I will not give up and do my best to harvest beautiful and healthy tomatoes this summer. And that's how my little plants look like right now:

Tomato plants six weeks after sowing

Barely six weeks after sowing, my tomatoes falter a bit because they were a bit too dark

May 20, 2016: Five weeks later

Bad news - I received two tomato plants last week! Unfortunately, I can not explain why they went limp - I did everything as it should. At their location on my balcony they get enough light, warmth and fresh air - they are irrigated, of course, regularly with fresh water. But I can reassure you - the rest of the tomatoes are doing well. They are evolving more and more to the right tomatoes every day and the stems are becoming ever more robust. The tomato plants are currently still in their seed pots. I want to give them a few more days before I get them to their final location. Above all, it is important to me that their root ball develops well and that works well known in individual seed pots much better than in the bed or flower box. Also, the stalk should, to my knowledge, have reached a height of about 30 cm and be robust before the tomato plants are planted in their final outdoor location. And so the tomato plants see - yes, they are still sweet little plants - straight from:

Tomato plants five weeks after sowing

Five weeks after sowing: The tomatoes are getting bigger in their seedling pots

May 15, 2016: Four weeks later

Last week I piked my tomato plantlets - finally!

The tomato seedlings now have a new and larger home and especially new nutrient-rich potting soil. Actually, I planned to put the plantlets into self-made seed pots made of newsprint - but then I changed my mind. The reason: I piked my tomato plants relatively late (about three weeks after sowing). Most plantlets were already quite large at this time. Therefore, I decided to put only the small tomato seedlings in the home-grown pots and the larger ones in "proper" medium-sized pots. The repotting or pikieren the tomato seedlings was very easy. On numerous garden blogs I have read that also often old kitchen knives are used for piking. I had to try that out - it worked great! After I filled the seed pots with new seedling soil, I used the plantlets. Then I filled the pots with some soil and pressed them well to give stability to the tomato seedlings. In addition, I tied the cuttings to small wooden sticks. Better safe than sorry! Finally, the plantlets were well watered with a spray bottle and voilà! So far, the tomato seedlings seem to feel very comfortable - the fresh air and their new home do them very well! And this is how they look today:

Freshly piked tomatoes

Four weeks after sowing: My freshly pikiert Tomatensetzlinge

May 08, 2016: Almost three weeks later

Now three weeks have passed since sowing.The stems and the first leaves of the tomatoes are already almost fully formed - on top of that, the plantlets smell like real tomatoes. It is now time to pique my young tomato seedlings - so to plant in good soil and larger pots. A few weeks ago I made pots of newsprint, which I will use instead of ordinary pots. Actually, I wanted to wait until the icy saints to put the pikierten tomato seedlings on my balcony. In the editorial office, however, I was advised to let the piqued tomatoes "out into the open" - that's how they get used to their new surroundings. To keep the tomatoes from freezing during the night, I will cover them with a protective cardboard box for safety's sake. I am sure that the tomato plants will feel very comfortable on my balcony, because they will be provided with sufficient light and enough fresh air, which they need for healthy growth. Next week, I'll tell you how I did while padding the tomato seedlings.

Tomato seeds three weeks after sowing

Three weeks after sowing: My tomato seedlings are starting to grow big enough to be spiked

April 30, 2016: Two weeks later

Juhu - the tomato tomatoes are here! 14 days after sowing, the plantlets are germinated. And I thought they would not come anymore. The date tomatoes are in the majority and were earlier, but at least the tomato tomatoes grow relatively quickly. The plantlets are already almost ten centimeters high and fine hairy. Every morning I remove the transparent lid from the seed box for about twenty minutes to add fresh air to the tomatoes. On colder days, at temperatures of five to ten degrees, I open only the small sliding opening of the lid. Now it will not be long before the tomatoes are allowed to be piqued. And that's how my tomato babies look like right now:

Tomato Diary April 28th

Two weeks after sowing

April 21, 2016: One week later

I had planned to germinate the tomatoes for about a week. Who would have thought: Exactly seven days after the sowing date, the first tomato seedlings cheekily look out of the earth - but only the date tomatoes. The tomato tomatoes are apparently more time. Now it is time to observe and control every day, because my breeding should not dry out in any way. But of course I can not drown the seedlings and the still-seeds of the Stabeomate. To ask the tomatoes if they are thirsty, I lightly press the ground with my thumb. I feel drought, I know, it's time to water. For this I like to use spray bottles, because I can dose the amount of water well. When will the cherry tomatoes see the light of day? I'm very excited!

first tomato seedlings

After a week: The first seedlings are here!

April 14, 2016: The day of sowing

Today was tomato-sowing day! I wanted to sow two different types of tomatoes side by side, so I chose the very large-fruited tomato and the small but delicious date tomato - opposites are well known.

For sowing, I used the starter set "Green Basics All in 1" in green by Elho. The set consists of a coaster, a bowl and a transparent nursery. The coaster absorbs excess irrigation water. The transparent lid has a small opening at the top, which can be pushed open to supply fresh air to the mini greenhouse. The culture container was made of recycled plastic - I think that's great. A helpful, but not necessarily necessary tool that I have used to press the earth: the angular sowing stamp of Burgon & Ball. The choice of the earth was particularly easy for me - of course I resorted to the universal potting soil of mine, in collaboration with Compo is made. It contains fertilizer from professional horticulture and supplies my plants with all the main nutrients and trace elements over a period of four to six weeks.

The sowing itself was very easy. First, I filled the shell with earth up to about five centimeters below the edge. Then the tomato seeds came in. I tried to distribute them evenly so that the plantlets do not get in the way of growth. Since the seeds need no light to germinate, I covered them with a thin layer of earth. Now the great sowing stamp made its big appearance: the practical tool helped me to press the earth. Since I have sown two types of tomatoes, I found it useful to use Steckschilder. Finally, I have the tomato babies well poured - and ready! By the way, the complete tomato-sowing can be seen in this video.

After sowing in the editorial office, I transported the tomato-in-my-to-myself to my home, so I can take care of them every day and do not miss out on their growth process. In order to germinate my self-seeded tomatoes, I put them in the brightest and warmest place of my apartment, on a wooden table that is directly in front of my south-facing balcony window. Here it is already 20 to 25 degrees on sunny days. Tomatoes are very light in need.I did not want to run the risk that my tomato babies would go mad because of lack of light and form long, brittle stalks with small bright green leaves.

Sowing tomatoes

Sown tomatoes

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