‘KETCHUP’ ON FACTS

Not just great for the palate, here are some things you may not know about the com­mon tomato. By Poon Li-Wei

Herworld (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

Things you may not know about to­ma­toes.

Grow Your Own

Did you know that Malaysia ex­ports to­ma­toes? We’ve got all the right con­di­tions as th­ese crim­son-hued fruits (yes, they’re not veg­eta­bles!) re­quire plenty of sun. Plus, they’re also pretty hardy and easy to grow if you’re think­ing of start­ing your very own gar­den. Do note that it will take about 40 to 50 days for the plant to bear fruit and in trop­i­cal cli­mates, cherry to­ma­toes do bet­ter as those of the heir­loom va­ri­ety are more sus­cep­ti­ble to wilts and fungi. A fact per­haps not known to most, your plant will ac­tu­ally bear yel­low flow­ers first, which will then turn into to­ma­toes! Check out our grow­ing tips:

1 Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion

The patch you’ll be grow­ing your to­ma­toes in needs to get a lot of sun (at least five hours a day). En­sure that it is shel­tered from strong winds as well.

2 A rich base

To­ma­toes also re­quire well-drained and slightly acidic soil that is chock­full of or­ganic mat­ter. Mix in some peat moss, com­post or ma­nure be­fore plant­ing your seeds for bet­ter grow­ing con­di­tions. The next time you add fer­tiliser will be when the fruit forms – too much ni­tro­gen in the soil will ac­tu­ally en­cour­age more fo­liage, not fruit.

3 Use a large pot

They’ll re­quire a lot of room for their roots, so if you’re grow­ing more than one plant, leave plenty of space be­tween. They’re best grown in large terracotta pots. Depend­ing on the va­ri­ety you choose and the height they grow to, you may need to place a stake next to your plant as the weight of the to­ma­toes could cause the branches to snap.

4 Wa­ter well

At the very start, you may need to wa­ter your plants twice daily as young tomato plants re­quire very moist soil to grow. But once the plant ma­tures, the Ohio State Univer­sity rec­om­mends a to­tal of 2.5cm to 3.8cm of wa­ter a week for it to bear fruit.

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