TOMATO, Lycopersicum esculentum (Nat. Ord. Solanaceae), a tender annual, native of South America, probably Peru. The fruit is much esteemed in salads and as a vegetable. Efforts have been made to popularize it for dessert, with varying success.
Plants intended to fruit out of doors during the summer should be raised from seed sown at the end of February or early in March, under glass, in a temperature of about 60. Potsj pans or shallow boxes are suitable for the purpose. The compost should be light and fresh, preferably of loam, sand and leaf mould in equal proportions.
As soon as the young plants appear they should be fully exposed to sunlight, as near the glass as practicable. When the second pair of leaves appear they should be potted singly in pots of about 3 in. diameter, using slightly richer compost and less sand. This operation should on no account be deferred. The next shift should be into pots 78 in. diameter, the compost mostly loam, enriched with the ashes of plants, etc., from the refuse heap. The first flowers will appear towards the end of April or early in May. The pollen should be gathered and applied to the stigmas of the flowers by hand. The plants should be fit for planting out early in June, and should bear at least two clusters of rapidly growing fruits. They should be planted in the sunniest and warmest position available. It is customary to confine the plants to one shoot, pinching off all lateral shoots as they appear. Owing to the fickleness of the English climate it is of the utmost importance that the setting of fruit should be secured early. Manure should be applied sparingly to tomatoes until the crops become heavy.
Under glass, without artificial heat, tomatoes succeed well. _ In cold, sunless seasons, however, the crops are seldom remunerative. The culture is substantially as advised for out of doors. In heated structures tomatoes may be produced all the year round. They are always a small and precarious crop during winter, however. During summer the crops are usually heavier and of better flavour, even in favourable seasons, than from out of doors. It is necessary to provide a succession of plants to replace those that are being worn out by heavy cropping. Periodical sowings are therefore necessary. Some prefer to raise the plants intended for winter fruiting by cuttings inserted in August. Planting out is usually effected on shallow benches in small quantities of moderately rich soil, and the shoots trained on wires near the glass. As more nourishment is required, new soil is added. In this way excessive luxuriance, to which the tomato is so addicted, is avoided. The plants should never be allowed to become dry they are large consumers of water.
The foHowing varieties comprise some of the best in cultivation:
Large Smooth Red Fruited. The Hastings, Conference, Ham Green Favourite Perfection.
Yellow Fruited. Chiswick Peach, Golden Jubilee, Carter's Greengage.
Early Varieties for Outdoor Culture. Chemin, Frogmore Selected.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)