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Latest posts by Italophile


Posted: 23/06/2015 at 07:26

It's the tomato plant's vulnerability to fungal problems. Trimming foliage where and when necessary is one of the few natural aids against fungal disease.

Eg, it's a good idea to maintain a gap of a foot to 18" between the soil and the lowest foliage. Fungal spores fall from the foliage to the soil beneath and can be splashed back up onto the foliage during watering to re-infect.

It's also a good idea to thin out thick, impenetrable clumps of leaves to promote air circulation, another aid against fungal spores.

Apart from diseased or dead leaves, they're the only reasons I remove foliage.

But you need to be selective. Removing too much foliage obviously will impact on photosynthesis and the foliage serves another purpose - protecting the fruit from direct, prolonged exposure to hot sun which will cause sunscald (sunburn). Less of an issue, obviously, in milder climates but I'm always tucking fruit in behind foliage at the height of summer.

Tomato, remove first truss if plant is still small?

Posted: 19/06/2015 at 15:20

Interesting point you touch on, Boater. Plants will always produce flowers if they feel a bit threatened. Seeking to reproduce themselves before they expire. That's why I maintain that "tough love" is the way to maximise fruit production. Overwatered and overfertilised just leaves them feeling bloated. Treat 'em mean and enjoy the rewards.


Posted: 19/06/2015 at 07:06

Anything that encourages insects will help, plotskier. I have lavender planted nearby the pumpkin patch.

Hand pollination is easy. Keep an eye out for female flowers, they're the ones attached to the ends of the miniature fruit. It usually takes 3 or so days from when they very first appear until the flower is ready to open.

Hand pollination is best done early in the morning as soon as the female flower has opened. You can use something like a cotton bud to transfer pollen from the stamen to the stigma. It's best also to use pollen from a freshly-opened male flower. Very gently brush the pollen onto the stigma and, even more gently, inside the stigma. Care is the key. If you damage the stigma it's curtains for the flower.

I prefer to nip out a male stamen and brush it directly onto and inside the stigma. Less chance of damaging the stigma and the transfer is direct.

Typically, you'll get a lot more male flowers than females, particularly early on, and the wait for females can be very frustrating.


Posted: 18/06/2015 at 17:54

They will thrive. I'm always pulling out volunteers from seeds in the compost heap.

Tomato, remove first truss if plant is still small?

Posted: 18/06/2015 at 13:11

The time to remove flowers (or trusses) is if they appear before planting out or immediately after. The reason you remove them is to give the plant a chance to establish itself without the added strain of supporting fruit.

If the plant is established, regardless of height, leave things.

Dead lavender, strange stem = cod?

Posted: 15/06/2015 at 07:10

Could be any number of things, Louise. Lavender becomes very "woody" - brown, dead-looking stems - as it gets older unless it is pruned properly. There can also be a tendency to overwater lavender in planters. Take the time to upload a photo and you'll get more helpful responses.

black spots on leaf

Posted: 14/06/2015 at 09:09

It's more than likely Black Spot, Crypto, a very very common fungal disease with roses. Spraying of any kind has to be preventive - ie, before the symptoms appear. Once the plant is infected your options are limited to removing the infected leaves and destroying them.

Apart from preventive spraying, the best way of guarding against infection is housekeeping. Keep healthy leaves dry; make sure there's plenty of sun and air circulation; be very careful not to transfer the disease from infected leaves to healthy ones via your hands or secateurs, etc; and keep the ground around the plant clear of fallen leaves and other plant debris. The fungal spores can and will live on in the detritus on the ground around the plant.

Tomato Plant (No Side Shoots)?

Posted: 11/06/2015 at 07:34

That was going to be my next question! 

Tomato mishap

Posted: 11/06/2015 at 07:21

Jade, they're going to end up throttling each other. The toms, particularly, and the chillies are very sturdy and can cope with a surprising amount of root disturbance, particularly at the stage they're at. In fact, one of the reasons for potting up toms is to give the root systems a bit of a shock. It stimulates them.

I'd tip out the pot and go to work. Trace the stems down to the roots and prise them apart with your fingers or something fine and sharp like a knitting needle. You'll do some root damage but it shouldn't matter. In fact, if you happen to sever a root system completely, treat the plant as a cutting. Put the stem into a glass of water or poke it into some damp potting mix and keep it out of direct sunlight for about a week. It will grow new roots.

Successfully separated plants can go into individual pots with damp potting mix, again kept out of direct sunlight until they recover from the trauma. Damp doesn't mean wet. 


Tomato Plant (No Side Shoots)?

Posted: 11/06/2015 at 06:34

Andrew, apart from the (lack of) side shoots, how different is it from what you grew last year? I only ask because this one looks to have the growth habit of an indeterminate variety.

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