There are few things better than plucking a fresh juicy red tomato from your window for a salad or sandwich. After all, you are eating the fruits of your labour and that can be incredibly satisfying.
Besides herbs, such as mint and coriander, there are some vegetables that can be a great asset to your mini-garden as well. If you plan to venture into deeper waters, perhaps your next garden project could involve growing tomatoes.
The humble tomato, which is native to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, is a lot more difficult to grow than mint. The rewards, however, are just as amazing. If you feel inspired to add some tomato plants to your garden, keep these tips handy!
1. To-may-to, To-mah-to
There are dozens of varieties of tomatoes, and all of them have slightly different characteristics and need different conditions for optimal growth. In sunny Singapore where the temperatures can be excruciatingly warm, you would find that it may be easier to manage tomatoes that are more tolerant of the tropical climate. Examples of these varieties include: Arkansas Traveler Heirloom Tomato, Black Cherry Tomato, Creole Tomato and Florida 91 Tomato. This is just the tip of the iceberg – some quick research will give you a mind-boggling amount of varieties to choose from.
2. Give Them Space
It is no surprise that Singapore has land constraints, so it is rare that you’d have a plot of land to work with. But if you do, then just plant them about a metre apart. However, you live in an HDB or an apartment, things can get slightly trickier. You would need big containers or pots to contain your tomato plant. Ideally, each plant (unless it is a small tomato variety) should be planted in its own individual container that is at least a square foot.
3. Use Good Soil
Use good quality potting soil that is rich in organic matter and keep the pH slightly acidic at 6.2 to 6.8. It is extremely important that you fertilize the plants. Otherwise the beautiful fruits that you envision may not even appear. Mix some slow release fertilizer into the soil and water with a diluted liquid fertilizer every week or every other week.
4. Consistent Watering
As with fertilizer, tomatoes in the tropics need lots and lots of water. However, you need to be consistent in the amount of water you give to the plant, especially if you are growing your plants in a container. That means that if you water a specific amount, do not change that amount or skip days. If you do, your tomatoes may burst or crack. This is crucial especially when your tomatoes get bigger. Make sure that there is good drainage because with our humid climate, it is very easy for tomato plants to get fungal infections.
5. Growth in the Sun
Tomatoes need lots of sun so make sure you put your plant by a window or a part of your veranda that receives lots of sunlight. However, do keep an eye on the temperature. Most tomato varieties do not grow well when the temperature climbs above 32 degrees Celsius.
With these top tips for successfully growing tomato plants and harvesting tomatoes, we hope your garden flourishes with the tasty tomatoes. If you plant them today, maybe in the next 10-11 weeks you might be using actual home-grown tomatoes in your recipes!
Written by Annmaria Patteri