We’re now about halfway through the season and plants should be flowering and setting fruit.
This week I’ve removed some rather long side shoots which I’ve decided to use as cuttings and create a few more plants – as if I had room for more!
All you need to do is to stand the cutting/side shoot in a glass of water and a week or two later, you will see roots growing out of the stem (see below).
When a seed is sown, you will notice the first root it makes is called a tap root. This is the root that goes down in search of water and the more fibrous roots remain closer to the soil surface – which is where most of the nutrients are.
Cuttings however, won’t have a tap root but just grow the finer roots. This means that a cutting will need to be watered more regularly especially in the early days. The quickest way to get water into a cutting is with a hand mist/sprayer.
When they are first transplanted into soil, it’s good to give them a regular misting with water.
Here are a couple of photos of cuttings and their developing roots.
At this time of the season, the most common problems are:
- Discoloured leaves
- Leaf roll or leaf curl
- Blossom drop
- Blossom End Rot
- Bugs, slugs and aphids.
Because nutrients are sent to the growing tip of tomato plants, lower leaves get ignored and go hungry. The result is nutrient deficiency showing itself in yellowing leaves etc.
Leaf curl on lower leaves is quite normal and nothing to worry about. However, curling leaves on the upper plant is usually due to stress – over watering or wide temperature fluctuations to name just two reasons.
Other reasons for leaf curl on new growth includes the curlytop virus but this is less likely than stress.
This happens when flowers fail to pollinate and the whole flower bud is aborted – you’re just left with the stem!
To avoid Blossom Drop, see “Good Vibrations“.
Blossom End Rot
This displays itself as brown leathery patches at the bottom of the fruit and renders the tomato useless. Most gardeners who have grown medium or large varieties have experienced this problem and I used to suffer from it too.
I once had a lovely yellow plum variety that had almost every tomato affected by BER – a very disappointing experience!
However, I now spray weekly with Chempak Calcium and BER is a thing of the past!
Bugs, Slugs and Aphids
Many of these problems can be controlled organically and by the use of friendly nematodes using Nemaslug or Nemasys – the most advanced way to control problems with little pests!
When To Stop Tall Varieties
It is standard practice to pinch out the growing tip of a tall variety in order to encourage tomatoes on a plant to grow and ripen more quickly.
I usually recommend four trusses for outdoor growing and around six trusses for greenhouse tomato plants.
If you live in a part of the world that has a longer growing season than the UK, you have time to grow more trusses and more time for the fruit to ripen.
I’m hoping to have a video on this page in a day or two so please check back – it’s been a very busy week and we’ve only just got the video camera working again!