The Tomato Race
Two weeks ago I reported that Red Alert was slightly ahead of Stupice and Latah. This week I can report that Stupice and Latah have over-taken Red Alert and both have tomatoes that are turning red. Red Alert has lots of full size toms that have yet to turn colour.
The interesting result about this experiment is that a medium size tall variety (Stupice) has been able to compete with very early cherry size bush varieties.
Why is it important to grow early maturing varieties?
If you are growing tomatoes in a short season area such as the UK, there is a limited time period within which tomatoes can be grown outside.
This means that if you grow late maturing varieties, your toms may still be green when the cold weather sets in and your plants slow down because of the cool autumn weather – fine if you like to make green tomato chutney.
Of course, if you have a greenhouse you aren’t under so much pressure to produce early, so a wider selection of varieties can be grown including the big size – big tasters like Brandywine and Caspian Pink.
The second most popular leaf colour is yellow!
At this time of the season, if you don’t have any yellow leaves around the lower part of your plants, you are doing very well. This is a sign of nitrogen deficiency but it doesn’t mean that your plants are desperate for nitrogen.
Plants send nutrients to their growing tips and ignore the lower leaves, so as long as the new growth look healthy – all is well.
It’s a good idea to remove poorly looking leaves and leaf branches on bush and tall varieties.
The following video contains pinching out, removing side shoots, taking cuttings and more action from the toothbrush.
Pinching out – remove growing tips at four trusses if growing outdoors and six or seven if growing in a greenhouse.
Removing Leaves – remove leaf branches up to the first truss (gradually). As the second truss starts to ripen, remove leaf branches up to the second truss. As the third truss begins to ripen, remove leaf branches up to he third truss.
I’ve never removed leaf branches above the third truss – they look too naked! – so I’ll leave that up to you.
Feeding Tomato Plants
When plants begin to fruit, feed them with tomato food and follow the directions on the packet. That’s all I add to the soil as a root feed.
If you are growing medium or large varieties, be aware that they need calcium to avoid Blossom End Rot – Tomorite does not contain calcium – please check your Tomorite container and tell me if I’m wrong! I hope that they will think about adding calcium to their tomato food soon.
What goes into the soil can do more damage than good. Too much of one nutrient can block another nutrient altogether.
That’s one reason why foliar feeding is so good. It gets into a plant quickly and doesn’t cause a problem down below. For giving extra magnesium and calcium, I highly recommend foliar feeding.
As the season progresses, nutrients can build up in the soil and create a chemical cocktail that would challenge the most experienced bartender!
That’s about it for this week, please leave comments below or send me an email.