Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How to Grow Tomatoes in Kenya

Tomatoes are among the most widely grown vegetables in the world. Tomatoes are used in salads, cooked as a vegetable or used in chutneys. Tomatoes are excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Fresh juices and its soup are becoming increasingly popular health-drinks across the world. Lycopene antioxidant present in tomatoes is scientifically found to be protective against cancers including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors. Fresh tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. This crop has high returns on investment (ROI), making it suitable for farming business. Good quality tomatoes which have been carefully handled command good market prices.
Tomato salad

Climatic requirements: Tomatoes grow well in warm conditions and they are fairly adaptable, but excessive humidity and temperatures reduce yields.
Nursery: Choose a nursery site where potatoes, eggplants, peppers and cape gooseberries have not been grown for the last 3 years because of disease risk. A seed rate of 100-200g will give you seedlings enough to plant 1 hectare. Sow the seeds in drills 20 cm apart and 1cm deep. Thin out to 7cm apart latter in rows in order to raise strong seedlings.

Manure: If soils are poor in organic matter, apply 10kg of well decomposed manure per square meter prior to transplanting to improve yields of tomatoes.
Transplanting: This is carried out about one month after sowing seeds in the nursery, or when the plants are about 10-15cm high. Select only the healthy strong seedlings and plant at a spacing of 90cm x 60 cm. Transplant with soil attached to the roots on a cloudy day or late in the evening.
Fertilizers: When transplanting, apply 200kg/ha of double super phosphate which is equivalent to 5g/planting hole. Mix the fertilizer with the soil thoroughly to avoid scorching, and when the plants are 25cm high Top dress with calcium ammonium nitrate at a rate of 100kg per hectare. An application of calcium ammonium nitrate at a rate of 200kg/ha 4 weeks later is beneficial.

Mulching and weeding: Mulch with dry trash to conserve moisture and keep down soil temperatures. Keep the field free of weeds in order to reduce competition for water and nutrients.
Pruning: Leave 2 main stems and pinch out the laterals as they grow every week. When 6-8 trusses have formed, pinch out the growing tip. Pruning will encourage growth of good sized marketable tomatoes. Remove the leaves close to the ground to prevent the entry of blight and other fungal diseases disease.
Watering: water thoroughly 2-3 times every week.
Staking: This is done by pushing firmly into the ground a 2m stake for each plant. Loosely tie the stem to the stake as the plant grows. Alternatively put a stout pole in the ground every 4 meters and run two wires at a height of 2m and 0.15m from the ground respectively. From the top wire run a string down for each plant to the bottom wire. The plants can be carefully twisted around the string as they grow.


Harvesting: Fruit for fresh market should be slightly under ripe at harvesting time for it to
Maturity period: Tomatoes mature in 3-4 months after transplanting. travel well to the market, while fruit for canning should be ripe.More-