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Open field/outdoor tomatoes – a guide for planting and care

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Open field and tomatoes? These two words do not really fit together, you might think at first. Tomatoes can only grow and thrive in a purpose-built tomato house. And those who do not have a tomato house do not have tomatoes. The open field/outdoor tomatoes, however, make it possible for you to grow tomatoes in a small garden or even a container on the terrace, without rain protection. Planting instructions and other important information about open field tomatoes can be found in this article.

What are open field tomatoes?

In the case of open field tomatoes, such as those in the Lubera® assortment, we talk of robust tomatoes that should be staked. These can, as the name implies, be cultivated in a field, i.e. without a tunnel or tomato house. Due to their robustness and contrary to normal tomato varieties, rain does not pose a problem for these varieties. The reason for this is their high tolerance to the fungal disease Phytophthora infestans, also known as late blight, which quickly infests other tomatoes. Of course, this has the big advantage that only a few plants can be planted without having to put a plastic house in the garden.

Should I sow open field tomatoes or plant young plants?

But now about planting open field tomatoes. Should I sow seeds or plant young plants? That's the first big question. All varieties offered by Lubera® are so-called open-pollinated varieties. This means that you can sow the seeds of the tomatoes again and get the same variety. There is no genetic breakdown. As a result, sowing is a way to grow your own open field tomatoes. Another variant is purchasing tomato young plants. You will get a strong plant in a well-rooted pot.

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Picture: Lubera® open field tomato 'Primabella' – the robust, red, aromatic outdoor tomato

The biggest advantage of this is that the plants can only be planted after the Frost Saints, that is, when there is no longer a risk of frost, and thus there is one problem less that could hinder a reliable harvest. With the varieties at Lubera® both variants are possible, whereby the young plants represent the more reliable planting method. If you did not buy your tomatoes from Lubera® and you do not know if they are open-pollinated varieties, I would advise against sowing, as the result will be unsatisfactory in most cases, due to genetic breakdown.

Should I plant the tomatoes in a pot or in the ground?

In principle, both are possible. The fact is that these tomatoes do not need a roof over their heads. Thus they can easily be planted in the garden or in a pot on the terrace. In general, a fleece should be used in an outdoor planting in order to protect the tomato plant from spraying water. The spraying water transmits late blight. Even if the varieties are tolerant, there can still be an infestation that can be prevented by applying the fleece.

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Picture: Tomato plant in fleece with a bamboo stake

Using fleece is highly recommended especially if there were already tomatoes or potatoes planted in the same location. This risk can be reduced by planting in a pot, as the fungus is unlikely to be present there. We recommend a pot size with a minimum of 20 litres. Then it does not have to be watered every day. For a potting soil, the Fertile Soil No. 1 would be the first choice due to its coarse structure.

How are open field tomatoes planted?

They should always be planted deeply. This means that if you plant your young plant in a pot, the root ball should be about 5-10 centimetres below the surface after planting. This may of course mean that you have to remove the bottom leaves. However, this usually does not affect the growth of the strong plants. It is very important when planting a young plant in a pot to roughen up the root ball, so as to allow good growth of the tomato. Of course, as a last step you should not forget to water the plant extensively. In order to guarantee the growth, good soil contact of the plant is indispensable. This is produced by watering a lot after planting.

Caring for open field tomatoes

If you have successfully planted your tomatoes, the next step is important: caring for them. Since open field tomatoes are staked tomatoes, they should also be treated as such. This means you need a “standing aid”. For this purpose, a stake or strong bamboo cane, to which the plant is tied at regular intervals, can be used. Also, if there is a possibility of attachment, the tomato can be grown on a string or twine. For this purpose, a loose loop is placed around the lower stem of the tomato.

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Picture: Loose string/twine on tomato stalks

After the string/twine has been fastened at the top, the tomato can be wrapped around the string and is thus supported.

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Picture: Tomato twisted into the twine

Even pinching out, which is known from staked tomatoes, should be done here in order to guarantee an upright and beautiful growth. Another precautionary measure is the removal of the lower leaves that touch the ground. You should do this if the plant has formed enough leaves above so as not to weaken them too much. The significance of the removal is, once again, late blight. This can very easily infect the plant if the leaves have soil contact, which is why it should be avoided if possible.

If you follow these tips, nothing stands in the way of the initial confusing combination of open fields and tomatoes in your garden.

 
 
 
 

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