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I'm growing Sweet Million tomato plant in my background. On the instructions it says "The plant has a strong central stem that should be tied to a stout cane as they grow. Pinch out all side shoots when they reach 2.5cm in length."
Does this mean remove every shoot off the main stem, or just slice it off at the end when it is 2.5cm? Do you pinch out the side shoots which come off the side shoots?
Sorry for the basic questions, and many thanks in advance for your help.
Your tom is an indeterminate, ie in ideal conditions it will keep growing, rather than a bush that will reach a size and stop when full grown by itself. With these 'vines' they will grow a main stem, along this stem you will get branches with leaves, and branches with flowers that turn to fruit. Now vine toms or indeterminate have a natural way to grow, which means you get loads of fruit, but they are all tiny. So you want to limit the plant to one main stem so it puts all it's energy into the fruit growing on that stem and so you get decent sized toms. What these plants do is grow secondary 'main stems' which appear directly between the junction of the leaf branches and the main stems. They can also appear between the trusses (the branches the flowers and fruit grow on) and the main stem. You need to pinch them out when you see them. Simply use your thumb and fore finger and pinch them off. They are sneaky though, some get past you and end up a foot long!
Just pinch them off and you are done, check everyday, when the weather and food are good they grow like stink. Interestingly in places like the phillipines, they let them grow to about 8-10 inch then cut them off and shove in a free draining mix. After a few weeks and the mother plant has produced the last truss, it's ripped out and replaced by the new cutting which is already producing trusses. Perpetual if you have the temps.
Good luck and I hope you now have an idea what they were talking about.
Many thanks Ben
That's a lot clearer now. Can I just ask a couple of follow-up questions? Firstly, if I've already allowed a secondary stem to grow how can I tell it apart from a leaf branch? Will it have different types of leaves, or do you identify it by the fact that it doesn't grow directly off the main stem?
Secondly, am I right in thinking that I leave the leaf branches attached to the main stem?
Thank you once again.
Chris, the secondary stem - or "leader" - has a growing tip at the top. You'll see new growth appearing, including wee flowers, as it continues to develop.
Leaf branches, which grow laterally, don't have growing tips. They just grow laterally and stop. "Suckers", which you can nip out, grow from the intersection of a leader and a leaf branch. "Suckers", if left to grow, usually have a growing tip and will develop into another leader.
Leave the leaf branches attached because the plant needs the foliage for photosynthesis in order to grow.
As the plant develops, though, you can take off the lowest branches to leave a gap of about a foot between the lowest foliage and the soil. This helps against fungal spores splashing from the soil up onto the plant during watering.
This might help explain it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtFnORJBQ90