As we approach the end of July, it’s a good time to take stock of what we can realistically expect to be fully grown and ripe before the season draws to a close and the cold weather sets in.
There are always plenty of side shoots to remove – it’s amazing how easy it is to miss one or two and they can grow very long before being spotted!
If you have a truss with plenty of tomatoes at almost full size with a few flowers and very small fruit on the end, it’s best to remove them (as below).
There’s no point in slowing down the growth of a truss for a few stragglers on the end.
Stress – mild stress that is!
Any action that causes stress to a tomato plant will encourage it to produce more quickly, that is, become more generative than vegetative. That’s one reason why branch removal (at the right time) is a way of encouraging fruit to grow and ripen early.
Leaf Branch Removal – A Summary
- Remove leaf branches up to the first truss.
- Branches above are best removed when fruit on the truss above is ripe.
- If there are three leaf branches between two trusses, the middle branch can be removed.
There’s been some discussion in the media lately about whether organic food is better for us and a new report that support that idea.
One approach is to consider whether it is better for the plants, because if it is, it will probably be better for us too. For example, soil that has organic material added to it usually contains more air spaces between the soil particles.
Soil that holds plenty of oxygen is excellent for plant roots and encourages friendly microbes. This one benefit of organic material added to soil would make nutrient uptake more effective and vegetables more nutritious – all other things being equal.
It’s also good to know that food hasn’t been sprayed by chemicals … to my way of thinking, it’s the insecticides and fungicides that I don’t like added to my food. Whether it’s horse manure or Tomorite that feed my plants, I’m not too concerned as long as the plants haven’t been spayed with a chemical that may prove one day to be dangerous!
Organic or inorganic plant food and ions
Plants absorb nutrients in the form of ions. It may start off as organic or inorganic, horse manure or Tomorite, but if it isn’t an ion, plant roots can’t absorb it!
A bottle of Tomorite is full of ions ready to be absorbed. The horse manure has to be gradually decomposed by bacteria to produce ions. Either way, plants get fed.
In theory there should be no difference between a plant that’s been fed with organic food or a plant that’s been fed with Tomorite – they both absorb the same ions.
However, in my view, it isn’t really as straightforward as that.
Organic feeds usually enhance the soil structure and microbial life which is better for the roots and the general well-being of plants (as stated above). This makes them less vulnerable to disease which often makes spraying unnecessary.
Hot weather increases organic food supply
When soil temperatures are high, organic matter decomposes more rapidly, supplying more ions to plant roots and increasing their food supply. Of course this also means that the soil may run out of sufficient nutrients sooner in warm weather and may need a top-up with more organic feed.
Of course different organic compounds decompose at different rates. Using organic food that decomposes gradually with organic food that is more readily available (as ions of course) will make a good organic feeding plan.
I’m away at the moment and hoping that the auto watering system is working properly!