Tidy plants are healthy plants!

In the video below, I do a bit of “tending the tomatoes” and tidy up around the lower areas of some of my plants.

Bush varieties like Red Alert soon lose their lower leaves to yellowing and nutrient deficiency as the hungry, quick growing plants send their minerals to the growing tips and ignore the bottom leaves.

Tall varieties are the same, they send their nutrients to the growing tip and the lower leaves get left out. A lack of nutrients means that lower leaves are vulnerable to disease.

Removing Leaf Branches
I usually remove all leaf branches on tall varieties up to the first truss – gradually, over a period of a week or so. A sharp, upward movement does the job. This helps air flow around the base of plants and helps avoid fungal diseases that love damp areas where leaves are resting on soil, bugs are nibling and there is little aeration. This is particularly important in greenhouses where aeration is restricted.

Removing side shoots
A constant job – it’s amazing how easy it is to miss a side shoot, then spot it at the back of a plant when it’s 8 inches long!

Side shoots, or shoots with flower clusters, aren’t usually removed from bush varieties. However, there are exceptions to this if flower clusters are still developing later in the season and there is no way they can develop fruit before the season ends.

Tightly curled top leaves
This is usually a sign of stress and can be caused by over-watering, wide temperature changes between day and night to name just two reasons – there are lots more!

The problem usually corrects itself as plants adjust to their final position and night temperatures rise a bit.

Tightly curled leaves at the top of plants can also be caused by the curlytop virus, but this is much less common than stress.

Nutrient Deficiency and Soil pH
Checking the pH of your soil, even if you are using multi-purpose compost in containers, is a good idea. If the pH is too high or low, this can lock out important minerals that your plants need. Even if you feed them nitrogen at their roots, they won’t be able to absorb it if the soil pH is too high. The liquid testing kits are the most accurate.

The Five Tumbling Toms
The video below shows the toms last week (June 3rd 2011). Not a lot has changed but they are beginning to show the effects of the positions they are in and food they are fed.

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