This ebook on how to grow tomatoes is written by Lucia Grimmer and Annette Welsford. Lucia has a Masters Degree in Plant Pathology and works as a technical nutrition specialist in the fertilizer industry. Annette has a partial degree in Horticulture. For me as an amateur grower this puts some weight behind the 37,000 words on the 73 pages. I paid $34.90 + $8.72 VAT to get the ebook in .pdf format down on my PC. You can get the ebook here: How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes
It’s a very comprehensive book with many details so I’ll limit myself and only talk about the things that were new to me.
A term I often see when reading about tomatoes is determinate versus indeterminate. In the book there’s a good clarification of what this means:
- Determinate types are the low ones, up to 1 meter. The tomatoes are picked over a few weeks in a concentrated crop.
- Indeterminates grow up to 5 meters and are picked over 12 to 20 weeks.
- Semi-determinates grow up to 2 meters and are picked over 2 to 6 weeks.
There’s a lot of information on watering in the book but some things stood out to me because I realized that I have probably made a huge mistake earlier on with my tomatoes, and potatoes for that matter.
To water correctly you need to soak to a depth of 15-20 cm. So far so good. But you need to do it early in the morning, and only the soil must be watered. No water on the leaves, for God’s sake. If the leaves do get wet it’ll dry off during the day. That’s why you should water in the morning. The problem with wet leaves is that it will be a heaven for fungus and disease spores. If you have read about my 2010 tomato disaster you’ll know what I’m talking about. Drip irrigation, mulching to prevent soil splashing, and water in the morning. That’s the way to do it.
Pollination is still a confusing subject to me. I don’t know if it gets any clearer but apparently tomatoes are self-pollinating according to the book, because the flowers contain both the male and female organs. At least it’s beginning to make sense to me, why a heirloom variety can stay with one grower for a lifetime without outside DNA material. But then again, you wouldn’t want that with humans, right? Weaknesses would build up, but I guess tomatoes can handle that somehow.
And a good tip on propagation: Save your clippings and dip them in a seaweed solution or plant hormone powder. Then plant them in a pot, and you’ll soon have en new tomato plant. That’s easy 😉
The advice on the actual tomato fruits goes against what I believed you should do, but the authors recommend picking the fruit before they even have the right color. Thereby the plant will focus its energy on the remaining fruits. Makes sense. The picked fruits should be kept away from sunlight or they’ll overheat and ripen unevenly. Makes sense too. Green tomatoes should be placed in a warm location to ripen at 18 – 21 C (64 – 70 F).
Tips & Tricks
- One way to plant out your tomato seedlings earlier in the season is to use a ‘wall of water’. It’s a device with several vertical tubes filled with water surrounding each pot. The water absorbs heat during the day and releases it during the night.
- The book also has a tip on compost that’s new to me: Earthworms hate onions. So keep onion scraps out of the compost.
- If you use red plastic as mulch on the soil below your plants they’ll think they’re overcrowded and grow even more. I think it has something to do with the color of the fruits?
- In an organic garden you should consider using neem oil / margosa oil if you want to actively fight pests. It has been used in India for a long time against almost any type of insect.
- A greenhouse made from polyethylene has several advantages: Low cost, ease of replacement, high light transmission and good heat retention. I didn’t like the artificial look, but with all these advantages it’s quite interesting compared to traditional glass.
What I LIKE about How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes
- It comforting to know that even the experts from the industry agree that the quality of supermarket tomatoes is very low these days (no flavour, few varieties, hard as apples).
- A chapter about biodynamic growing is included.
- Quote: “The advent of Genetically Modified Food is a revolutionary change to our food that offers no nutritional improvement, but increases the profitability and market power of global seed and chemical companies. Changes include incorporation of pesticides and weedicides within the DNA of the plant. If the ingredients and chemicals were properly labeled, like our processed food, some might be defined as pesticides!” Oh? And we’re supposed to eat that?… 😉
- It comes with a huge online variety database
- The book covers the whole world and considers different growing conditions depending on location.
- Great info on heirloom versus hybrids.
- Easy to read and understand.
- Thorough nutrition problem key to use if you find sick looking plants, so that you can diagnose and treat the problems.
- Includes organic bug killing recipes.
What I DON’T like about How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes
- Some of the text on the illustrations is unreadable.
- It’s important with references but I prefer to have all of them in the last chapter and not ind the middle of the book.
- Pictures and charts should have a higher resolution in the .pdf version.
- The book mentions that drowned snails can be tossed into the compost heap. I don’t think that would be a good idea as they would attract slugs that would eat the dead ones. At least that’s what Arion lusitanicus would do.
Who should buy How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes
It’s a very comprehensive book and a lot of the information is not directly related to tomatoes but of course if you’re serious about growing tomatoes you would need to know all of that too. And the specifics about tomatoes are in there too, so if you want to build a business around growing tomatoes you’re all set. A complete beginner could probably do with half the price, half the number of pages and half the details. The fertilizing scheme alone makes my head spin, despite the fact that I’ve already grown almost 10 kilos of tomatoes.
I doubt I’ll ever need another book on tomato growing so if you serious, knock yourself out and buy this one. If you haven’t grown a single red one yet you could probably do with less.
You can get the ebook here: How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes