Basics of tomato planting and harvesting
Nothing beats the taste of fresh tomatoes harvested straight from your backyard that you can add in your salad, dishes or drinks. And if you want to put your farming skills to good use, then tomato planting may be a good start-up.
Tomatoes are rich in carotene lycopene—a powerful natural anti-oxidant that is known to improve skin elasticity and ability to protect against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the production volume of tomatoes in the Philippines reached 203,578 metric tons, valued at P6.44-billion in 2012. Bukidnon, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Ilocos Norte are the major tomato-producing provinces.
Before planting tomatoes, consider preparing the seedbed: the nursery should be in an open area and near a sufficient water supply. Water the seedbed thoroughly before sowing. Vermitea can also be used to reduce the application of costly chemical fertilizers that are not environment-friendly. Sow the seeds at a distance of about one inch along the furrows, covering it with a thin layer of compost. The seedbed should be covered with paper, coconut coir, rice hull or rice straw mulch. Remove the mulch after four to five days once seedlings emerge. Make sure to water the seedbed daily. Watering should be done in the morning or mid-afternoon.
Tomato seedlings start to emerge four to five days after sowing and will have fully emerged after 10 days. Thinning (the process of removing parts of the plant to improve growth rate) can be done at this stage to achieve a uniform and vigorous seedlings.
If weeds sprout, remove the weeds near the base of the plants to minimize competition. Mulching using rice straw can help minimize weeds from forming. Weeding is done two to three times during the growing season.
Tomatoes are usually harvested 50 to 60 days from transplanting; the frequency is usually two to three times per week.