Tomatoes are popular vegetables in Uganda. Many farmers are therefore tempted to grow them all year round.
They are mainly produced in the peri-urban areas for the fresh market.
Herbert Ayo, a tomato farmer in Zirobwe, Luwero district, says before one selects the type of tomato seeds to plant, it is advisable to study the market where you intend to sell them.
Seeds may be purchased from agricultural input outlets. Farmers in your area may also have saved seeds that they can sell to you.
According to Gideon Zaake, an agronomist, one should prepare a good seedbed a few weeks before establishing the garden.
Press a straight stick to establish a shallow line in the bed. Distribute the seeds evenly along the lines and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
The seeds start sprouting after a few days.
Zaake says, put a shed over the seedbed to protect the germinating plants against direct sunlight.
Make the shed of grass or other plant material but not plastic sheeting.
Make it high enough to allow for air and light to pass through the structure.
In the evenings the shed cover should be removed, as the heat subsides.
“As the seedlings grow in the seedbed, fine-plough the garden where they are to be transplanted. In the meantime, the tomato seedlings should be sprayed with an insecticide at least once a week to protect them from pests,” Zaake advises.
-At three weeks, the tomatoes are strong enough to be transplanted into the field.
-Transplant in the early morning and late in the afternoon. After the plants are established, continued spraying with insecticide and fungicides at least once a week is essential.
The fungicide commonly used is dithane and it protects the plants from destruction by early and late blight that is very common.
Bacterial wilt can destroy the tomato crop in a matter of days. Although there is no known chemical cure for the wilt, rotational planting of horticultural crops on the farm and allowing the land to lie fallow can control it.
According to Ayo, it is best to use a knapsack sprayer to spray your plants as it minimises wastage of chemicals.
Remember chemicals are dangerous. Use protective clothing and wash equipment and yourself thoroughly after use.
Do not eat, drink or smoke while working, and it is important to mulch your garden.