Pinching Out Tomato Side Shoots

Tomatoes are one of those vegetables/fruits (whatever) that can be a real pain in the bum to grow. Blight can be a big problem or worry to many tomato grower who do not have the luxury of a glass greenhouse. But, putting all the hassle aside, the taste of home-grown tomatoes makes the stress of growing them so very worthwhile.

I have been quite successful with growing outdoor bush varieties, especially so last year when local gardeners were cursing the dreaded tomato blight and I was busy admiring my beautiful shiny red fruits. This season however, I have gone all mad in the head and decided to have a bash at growing two different types of cherry tomato, Sungold and Gardener’s Delight. Both of these varieties are uprights, also known as cordon or vine, they would probably do better under cover but they can go outside. Today I bought a plastic tomato grow house ‘thingy’, it looks quite good actually and will hopefully help to keep the rain off my tomato foliage as well as provide them with a little extra heat.

Because I have always grown bush varieties I have never bothered pinching out side shoots. Apparently, bush varieties naturally produce a limited amount of side stems so they kind of know when to stop producing shoots and start producing tomatoes, however, cordon varieties will produce far too much foliage and very few fruits if left unchecked. I have never bothered (until now) to learn why cordon varieties need their side shoots removed, it’s all about helping to divert the plant’s energy into producing the fruit on the main stem rather than putting all that energy into the side shoots. Pinching out side shoots is easy once you know what to look for – shoots forming in between the main stem and the leaf stems, in the arm pit of the plant. Hopefully the photo will help (although those shoots are a tad large and should have been pinched out earlier, whoops!) just make sure the first flower truss has set above and away you go with your pinchy fingers. Happy tomato growing!

A Good Year for Tomatoes

Tomatoes 2009

Well it is for me anyway! I started mine from seed and gave half my plants to my dad. He planted his in deep grow bags sited in full sun in the middle of his veg garden, while I chose to use pots against the house wall, early morning and late evening sun with some degree of shelter from rain. My dads tomatoes died a blighty old death a couple of weeks ago,  mine however are going great guns and producing good size tomatoes that ripen well on the vine.

Tomatoes 2009

I believe a combination of planting seedlings deep when potted on, shelter from rain, not too much sun, weekly feeding and not over watering has helped with the success of tomato growing this year. It’s now September, the weather has turned autumnal and my plants are still deep green, producing, thriving with good size tomatoes ripening on the plants. I will try this method again next year and compare. I think my dad will too!

Were your tomatoes a success or failure this year?