Thursday 20 July 2017

How to maximise your tomato harvest

Normally I grow my big (indeterminate) tomato plants using the so-called "cordon" method, making them grow tall and thin by removing all the sideshoots. Done this way, they can normally support 4 or 5 trusses, so they give me about 20 - 25 fruits each - if I'm lucky and don't lose any to Blossom End Rot, Blight or any of the other ailments that beset tomatoes. This year a fortuitous mistake may give me a higher yield...

These are fruits of "Ferline", which when ripe will be big, red and "meaty". I want lots of those!

Normally when I put a tomato plant into its final pot, I bury it to a level just below its first set of leaves. I must have accidentally buried this one a little deeper than usual, such that its leaves were actually below the soil. From those leaf axils, two big strong sideshoots appeared, and I decided not to pinch them out, but to grow them on, so that the plant effectively had three stems instead of one.

The first truss of this Ferline plant unusually only set one fruit, (see next photo) so it is fortunate that I decided on this approach. The first truss is often the best one, with the biggest and most fruit.

Note single fruit on the first (lowest) truss

The plant is a very vigorous one, and with the three main stems it has produced a prodigious amount of foliage.

I had to do a fair bit of de-leafing, to allow some light and air to reach the flowers and then fruit. I also had to tie-in the extra stems to give them some support - you can see some of the loops of string in the next photo. So now I have fruit on the main stem that are already quite large, and the first trusses on the two sideshoots setting as well.

The big fruits are on the main stem, and the tiny ones poking through are on a sideshoot

First truss on one of the sideshoots.

If my tomato-growing layout was conducive to this I think it would have been worth spreading out the sideshoots to make a V-shaped plant, and providing separate support for each stem. If the plant was in the ground - especially in a greenhouse - this would have been a practical proposition, but since it is only in a 35cm pot, then it's not.

The downside of this venture is that this particular plant needs an awful lot more water than its peers, to support the additional growth, but I think it will be worth the effort. As long as the weather remains favourable, and blight stays away, this plant should produce an above-average yield!

1 comment:

  1. Well done you !You,ve got some lovely chunky tomatoes there ours are coming along . lots of cherry toms , but the bigger varieties need more time to ripen up yet :)


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