Topical Tomato Tips for September
As we come to the time of the season when tomato plants are being stopped, albeit about six weeks later than most previous seasons, here are a few tips as the fruit begins to ripen.
Remove Flowers and Very Small Fruit
Remove flowers that haven’t yet set and even small fruit that won’t reach full size before the end of the season.
If plants are affected by blight – leaves, stems and fruit turning brown, remove any fruit that is unaffected to ripen indoors, then remove and destroy plants.
De-leaf at least up to the second truss to maximise energy into the growing fruit. De-leaf gradually up to the truss that has ripe fruit.
Cut down on nitrogen as too much in the soil can delay ripening.
Pick tomatoes as they begin to ripen/turn colour.
Excess nutrients in the soil can cause a chemical build-up and a drop in soil pH that can prevent some nutrients from being accessible to plants.
It is common practice with professional growers to use a flushing solution to remove high nutrient levels caused by over-feeding or just a long season of regular feeding.
If your plants are outside, they probably won’t be suffering from nutrient build-up because the rain will have diluted or flushed the soil already.
However, if you are growing under cover, you may find that a flush through with tepid (slightly warm) water has a positive effect on your plants health. Pick any ripe tomatoes before flushing as a sudden deluge of water can cause ripe toms to split. Let soil almost dry-out before watering and feeding again – you can always foliar feed if necessary.
Tomato plants have a mind of their own, if they think they have plenty of food, water and root space they’ll take their time and ripen late. That’s one reason why growing in containers produces an earlier but reduced harvest.
You would probably get more tomatoes over a longer period from plants when roots aren’t confined in containers, but we live in a short season area in the UK and tomato plants need to be pushed along before the weather turns cold and the daylight hours are reduced.
If you have any useful tips to share that are relevant for this time of the growing season, please share them below.