First Blossom End Rot (BER) of the season …
- Variety: Crimson Crush
- Growing in: Large pot
- Watering method: Stood in tray and watered twice each day
It’s interesting to note that because of the hot weather we’re having in the UK at the moment, even large pots or containers watered twice a day in trays, can end up with dry soil. Just a few hours of dry soil can cause BER in medium and large varieties.
The plant below is from the same seed packet.
A hybrid F1 variety like Crimson Crush, is a first generation cross between two parent varieties. If two flowers (one Mum one Dad) were not crossed correctly, you can end up with seeds that produce wonky toms! Either that, or Crimson Crush isn’t an F1 but perhaps an F3, 4 or 5, where the unstable hybrid (F2 onwards), has not been bred out. Tomatoes produced from hybrids (F2 onwards) usually become stable at the fifth or sixth generation – F5, F6.
If you experience Blossom End Rot this season, I highly recommend the Oasesbox or Quadgrow planter for growing tomatoes, chillies, peppers or aubergines next season!
Below is a good way to prune tomato plants for the best taste and growth.
Leaf Pruning – please read carefully before chopping!
It’s a good idea to remove leaf branches up to the first truss – when the first truss has started to set fruit. However, it is important to understand that the closest leaf branch to each truss of fruit, provides the tomatoes on that truss with most of the energy they need for growth.
In other words, the leaves closest to each truss of fruit provide most of the energy for the growth and sugars (taste) on that particular truss.
This is important to keep in mind when we are removing leaf branches.
Remove the middle branch when plants are too vegetative (leafy)
For example, if there are three leaf branches between the first and second trusses, the best way to prune is to remove the middle leaf branch, leaving the branches nearest the trusses.
This is done as the fruit are swelling to encourage fruit growth, but once they have begun to ripen, all the leaf branches up to a given truss (the ripe truss) can be removed.
We want energy to go into fruit production – not making a lot of leaves!
Removing all of the leaf branches up to the second truss can be done when the fruit on the second truss is ripening (not just setting). In other words, leaf branches can be removed up to the truss that is producing ripe fruit.
By this time, the ripening fruit will have received plenty of sugar from the nearest leaf branches.
Pruning is also important, especially for plants growing in greenhouses, because it helps air flow around the base of plants and helps keep them healthy.
Four or five trusses outside
If you are growing outside to four or five trusses, I wouldn’t worry too much about removing all branches up to the ripening truss – just remove leaf branches up to the first or second truss. Also, middle leaf branches as fruit are swelling and trim long leaf branches if necessary.
Pruning helps keep a balance of leaves/fruit and plants producing enough energy/sugars from the leaves to supply to the fruit.
Tomato plants have two phases of growth
- The vegetative phase – producing the stems and leaves etc.
- The generative/reproductive phase – producing the flowers and fruit etc.
The plant begins its life in the vegetative phase and when flowering and fruiting begins, it moves into its reproductive phase.
However, these phases are not mutually exclusive – in the second phase of flowering and fruiting, we still want plants to be growing stems and leaves to support higher trusses, but the main objective is to provide enough energy for the continued growth of the plant and tomatoes over a given period of time. This means that a balance of vegetative and reproductive growth is required.
This is where pruning comes in … also known as plant steering.
We want to direct energy from the leaves to the fruit. We don’t want to create a lot of big luxurious fat juicy leaves so that when they get a bit older, will become a drain on the plant’s resources and reduce the amount of tomatoes we get! By the way, tomato leaves are poisonous – don’t eat them!
Leaves in shade are less important
For example, if you are growing plants up against a wall or fence, the leaves at the back will be producing much less energy for the plant than those at the front in direct sunlight, so shaded leaves can be removed (as long as there are enough leaves at the front of course!).
If you’ve ever tried to grow large tomato varieties that run out of steam at the second or third truss, it’s probably because the vegetative and reproductive balance needs adjusting. These adjustments can also be made by the amount and the balance of nutrients we give our plants. Nitrogen encourages leaf growth and potassium flower and fruit growth. However, nitrogen is still needed to grow the upper trusses, so we need to get the balance right, over the length of time we are growing our tomato plants.
Those with a longer growing season can grow more trusses and larger varieties that need more time and sun to produce their full flavour.
If we knew in advance what sort of summer is coming, we could always grow the varieties that would do best in those conditions.