Latest posts by Tomsk

Pruning tomato vines

Posted: 13/08/2014 at 20:01

Are you supposed to prune side shoots from tomato vines, or just suckers?

The side shoots that only produce leaves can become very bushy, stop air and light getting into the plant and make it harder to get the rose of your watering can right into the plants, so should you prune them or does their photosynthesis help the fruits grow?

Are there any rules to which side shoots are safe to remove. for example, do fruits only benefit from leaves either beneath or above them on the vine, or only leaves close to a truss are useful, etc?

Unknown spiny-leaved plant

Posted: 28/07/2014 at 16:53

Sorry, I think spiny was the wrong word to use. When they turn green, they look a bit like the tops of pineapples.

But there's no sign of any stem growing from the centre, just leaves with a hole in the middle where one (presumably) should be. I haven't been able to take a good picture of them, but here's a couple more. This plant has one missing leaf (compared to the other one) and one stubby one that hasn't grown like the others for some reason. You can also see another shoot to the right that appeared much later than the others, and this is still purple but starting to turn green:



Unknown spiny-leaved plant

Posted: 25/07/2014 at 20:28

Yes, I'm pretty sure they were bulbs I planted, but I don't remember what they were.

These two have been growing for many months now, but there's no sign of any flowers, just leaves. Whatever they are, I'm sure I bought them expecting to get flowers.

I've just googled Eucomis and some photos to look very similar. They also seem to flower later in the year, so these may well be what I have, and I still have something to look forward to!

Unknown spiny-leaved plant

Posted: 25/07/2014 at 18:55

Can anyone identify this plant. When the shoots appear, they're purple, but then it grows into this green plant with spiny leaves. I think they were planted in the spring, but can't remember what they were. There are no signs of flowers, but I wouldn't have bought something I didn't expect to flower, so will it flower eventually? The leaves are quite soft and limp, with many of the larger ones buckling under their own weight.


Split tomato vine

Posted: 25/07/2014 at 17:55

Thanks for the replies. Glad to know I haven't lost the plant.

I have it supported by string tied to a couple of stakes, but I'll have to keep an eye on it and see whether the split gets any worse.

Removing leaves from unknown bulbs

Posted: 25/07/2014 at 17:44

Thanks for the replies. These plants grow very rapidly and need a lot of pruning to keep them in one place. And I'm a bit disappointed by the flowers being covered by much taller leaves. So I was going to pull them up before they seeded and not bother with them again...

But then, as artjak said, they became completely infested with aphids and caterpillars, and this seems to be keeping them away from my other plants and tomatoes. So I think I will grow them every year from now on for that reason.

When I prune them, I now see clusters of pea-like green things growing on some stems. I take it these are the seeds, and if so how do I keep them until I'm ready to plant them?

Split tomato vine

Posted: 24/07/2014 at 16:03

One of my tomato plants has grown a lot since I transplanted it into soil, with the main trunk splitting into two main branches. I was adding extra stakes to help support my plants when one of the main branches of one plant fell to the side due to its weight and me rummaging around the plants tying the vines to the new stakes.

Today I notice there's a 1 inch split in the middle of the branch where it meets the trunk. The plant is now supported well, but will this whole branch now die or produce bad fruit, or are they robust enough to survive a split in a vine?

Ant tips on what I could do to help the plant at this stage? Would wrapping cling film around the split or something else help?

Surprise tomato plant!

Posted: 22/07/2014 at 22:20

I had a similar situation last year, when a tomato plant grew in a compost bin.

I left it until it was big enough to handle being transplanted (it was awkward removing it from inside the bin but a flower bed may be easier for small shoots) and moved it to a 37" pot.

It produced a few tomatoes but they weren't that great. I think that was mainly down to me not knowing anything about growing them. This year I've deliberately grown several plants from seed and despite being transplanted to soil a month or two later than they should have been (circumstances) they're now doing well.

If you think you can gently lift your plant from the flowerbed without damaging the fine roots, perhaps with a kitchen fork rather than a big tool that will take a big scoop of soil out, move it to a pot about one foot across. If you don't have one and want a makeshift alternative, Aldi are currently selling plastic builders' buckets for 99p. They're just about adequate to grow a single tomato plant, but you'll have to drill drainage holed in the bottom first.

It's getting a bit late in the year, but I would try adding just four inches of compost to the bucket and plant your tomato in that (assuming it's still tiny and no proper leaves or stalk have grown yet). When it grows tall enough so there's three or four developed shoots coming 90 degrees from the main stalk, cut off the bottom couple and add more soil until there's just a couple of inches of stalk visible before the first branch. Don't over prune the shoots because the plant still needs some leaves to produce food.

Repeat this process until the bucket is full and then let the vine grow as per usual. Doing this promotes more roots which should result in better tomatoes. You can add a bamboo pole or some other support as soon as the soil is deep enough to support it, so that you don't damage wide-spreading roots later on, when you finally need to use it.

If you have any Gro-More in the house already, you could try using that until the vine starts producing flowers, since it may help speed up growth in the few months of summer we have left. Then you can use proper tomato feed. Last year, I used no feed at all and that's probably another reason the tomatoes weren't great.

Picking tomatoes

Posted: 22/07/2014 at 19:37

When is the right time to pick tomatoes? I've read that you can leave them too long on the vine, but I'm not sure why. Does the flavour deteriorate after they turn red or start rotting or something?

How long after they've turned proper red should you pick them, and should you pull them off the vine or cut the whole truss in one go and leave them connected, like vine tomatoes in the supermarket?

What's the star in your garden right now

Posted: 22/07/2014 at 19:28

As someone who's never managed to persuade anything to grow before this year, my dahlias are impressing me the most at the moment:

 I've had various poppy and pansy seeds produce no flowers, which has been the most disappointing thing of the year. And I have a tiny rose bush (I bought two but one died) which doesn't look very impressive at all. Perhaps it will in a couple of years when it's grown a bit and can produce more than one flower at a time!

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