Tomatoes are among the most consumed fruits in Kenya and the region. Almost every household uses them in preparing meals. That means there is guarantee for a ready market once you harvest your tomatoes.
Tomato farming is a very lucrative venture when done the right way. Many farmers are already making a fortune from growing tomatoes, and you can do it too.
Perfect conditions for growing
1. Open place (no trees) – it should be open enough for direct sunlight.
2. Well-drained soils- tomatoes don’t do well in wetlands. Make sure there are ways where water is going to pass.
3. Grow them either on a flat land or gentle slope- they should be sandy loamy soils that are very light enough to allow roots to move easily.
4. Tomatoes are not so good with soils which are clay in nature.
1. You need to understand the varieties of tomatoes, don’t just go and buy any tomato seeds from the shop and you plant. We have Hybrids and OPVs (open-pollinated varieties).
2. For commercial purposes, plant Hybrids which will produce more tomatoes for you and also tolerate harsh conditions and diseases.
3. Hybrids are improved varieties of the ordinary tomatoes (they have F1) on it which stands for “first generation”. These hybrids are improved to withstand conditions that are harsh for the crop and also to produce more output.
4. After identifying a variety, you need to know how much of the seed you need to buy, i.e., for one acre you need between 50gm- 60gm.
5. Consider germination percentage- don’t buy any variety below 90%. After identifying, the next step is nursery bed.
Nursery bed preparation
Tomatoes are propagated from seed. Note that every seed counts therefore failure to do the nursery bed well, your target market automatically changes.
- Select a good site for the nursery (an open place where enough light can reach), also make sure the width doesn’t go beyond one metre, the length can go up to the length you want depending on the number of seeds you want to plant. Make sure the soil is very fine, no big parties/stones that can affect the seeds- any seed that lands on a stone won’t germinate. Add manure- ratio of soil and manure should be 3:1. Then you can now sow your seeds.
- Make shallow lines on the bed and sow. Put a few seeds because they can’t germinate when they are all in one place. After that, slightly cover with soil.
- Cover with dry grass to create warmth in the soil- to increase the germination percentage of the seeds and to control the water flow.
- Water for the first five days till they sprout.
On setting up a nursery, there are two options you can use:
Nurseries in polythene/paper pots
This method is very cheap and effective.
Get newspapers, shred and glue them. Pack soil, compact well then put one seed per pot. Cover with mulches, water for five days then uncover after they have emerged.
Nurseries in seed trays
This option is a bit costly therefore not recommended. You can use either peat moss or cocopeat.
The seed trays are a bit expensive but the germination percentage is 99%. You put peat moss on the trays, wow seeds, water with a knapsack, put them over each other then cover with a dark material. Put them in a nursery chamber and cover uncover them after three days.