TOMATO

TOMATO

The tomato arrived in Europe after the discovery of America, imported by the Spanish troops of Cortez in 1544. It was initially treated as a botanical curiosity. Its ornamental qualities made it so that, in the beginning, it was customary for nobles to give tomato plants as gifts to dames as a sign of appreciation and love. Then, in 1600, the tomato was attributed mysterious aphrodisiac powers and was used in magic potions. This explains why, around that time in Europe, certain names were given to the tomato that referenced love: love apple in England, Libesapfel in Germany, pomme d'amour in France, and pom-d'oro in Italy. Successively, with the exception of Italian, the name referred to the term "tomatl" used by the indigenous, in other languages (French: tomate; English: tomato; Spanish: tomate; German: tomate). The tomate was not used in cuisine until the end of the 1700. From then on, however, its culinary use diffused with rapidity. In Italy, the tomato became very popular in Campania where, already by 1762, Lazzaro Spallanzani catalogued its technique of conservation. From a botanical point of view, the tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, belongs to the order of the Solanacee, like the potato, eggplant and pepper. In its native environment, it is an herbaceous, perennial plant with a shrub-like structure, of undetermined growth that can develop branches reaching several meters in height. The clusters of flowers sprouted from the leaf axil are hermaphrodites (male and female organs are on the same flower) and guarantee a high dose of self-pollination.

CULTIVATION

The tomato is a plant that loves direct sunlight, as long as there is an adequate and regular amount of water in the substrate. In deciding the area for cultivation, it is necessary to avoid places that are overly windy or shady. Shade, in particular, determines the elongation of the drum's internodes and the development of the leaf surface at the expense of the fruit production. The tomato is a plant with high thermal requirements. Frost-sensitive, it has a vegetative thermal limit of around the 10° C. The minimum temperature for flowering is 20° C. While it requires 25 to 28° C for growth and fruit development, growth is also favored with a good temperature of around 15-18° C at night. Temperatures exceeding the aforementioned limits allow plant growth but reduce the production of fruits (poor fruit setting, poor fruit quality). With these needs in terms of temperature, the tomatoes must be grown in our climate during the spring and summer, but can still be grown in greenhouses throughout the year, not being sensitive to photoperiod. The techniques that facilitate the pollination of the tomato are: the shaking of the flowers, the presence of pollinating insects (bees, bumble bees, etc.), and the nebulization (spray) of distilled water on the corolla (cup). It is inadvisable to spray the flowers with plant hormones. The fruits are spherical or elongated berries, more or less ribbed. The tomato crop cycle, from transplanting to harvest, depends on environmental conditions and varieties. In principle, from the transplant to the harvest of the first fruits, 10 - 12 weeks in open field are necessary. The tomato adapts to many types of soil. The best ones are still rich in organic matter and well drained soils that provide good water retention and mineral endowment, with a pH between 5.5 and 8.

FERTILIZATION

In addition to all the stems and leaves, a tomato crop can produce more than 8-10 kg / sqm of fruits. To "build" the whole green mass, cultivation removes significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and trace elements. According to the tables for these levels of production, cultivation removes 270 g / sqm of N, 100 g / sqm of P2O5, 460 g / sqm of K2O. To cope with these removals, it is recommended to add 8 kg / sqm of manure or 3kg / sqm of organic compost, around 30g/sqm potassium sulphate, and 20 g / sqm of triple superphosphate (46-48), during the preparation of the soil. In addition, about 50g/sqm of calcium nitrate or ammonium sulphate will be added in 3 - 4 distributions at a distance of 2/3 weeks apart, on top of the soil.

TRANSPLANTATION AND SPACING

Given the requirements of not having stagnant water in the immediate vicinity of the plants, where possible, it is advisable to plant on land placed in prose (strip of land between two furrows). The plants can be planted in double rows, placing them at a distance of 30 cm between rows and 25 to 35 cm among the plants on the row, while the distance between the centre of the bines will be 120 cm. In this way, you will get an average investment of 6-10 plants per square meter.