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Tomatoes Question about removal of side shoots


 
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daigo75
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: Tomatoes Question about removal of side shoots Reply with quote

Hi all,
I was doing the usual operation of removing the side shoots from my (many) tomato plants, and I found out that some of them are huge compared to the main stem (see pictures). Should I cut them, or should I leave them there? Accordingly to what I read, side shoots are the ones growing between the main stem and the horizontal branches, so the one in the pictures qualify perfectly. However, they are so big that I'm afraid of crippling the plant if I cut them. Confused

Also, while cutting the small ones I didn't notice it, but, when I collected them to dispose of them, I noticed that some of the side shoots actually had little tiny micro flowers! Sad Not yet open, but still flowers (1 mm in size max).
Now it's too late, I can't glue them back (I guess), but for the future, what should I do? Should I cut side shoots with flowers, in case I don't get them when they are small?

Thanks.



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Notice how big is the (alleged) side shoot, compared to the branch underneath.
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Last edited by daigo75 on Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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walltoall
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Location: Thurrock RM15 via Dungarvan and the Banner County

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: shooting tomatoes Reply with quote

The reason for removing side shoots is to ensure that a single stem grows and keeps the plant organised. You can harvest tomatoes from a tangled mess but it's better to follow 'best practice'. The leader should be tied in to a vertical string and trained to it by anticlockwise twisting of the vine onto the string as the plant grows. Sideshoots (any yes you have identified them correctly in the pictures) should be pinched out when no more than 2"/3" or so ideally. But who does ideal? As long as you get them out as soon as is practical, that's fine. The ones you show are huge and I bet they are nearly a foot long? Cut them out with a scissors, fine secateurs or a knife. If you try to break off those bruisers you will wreck your plant.

Unfortunately the fruiting growths can look like side shoots also. The difference is they stick out from the main stem AWAY from the side branches. Side shoots ALWAYS emit from the node at the joining of a main stem and a side branch. The flower buds which will later become tomatoes NEVER come out at the node.

Once the vine is established on the string it needs copious water and ideally plant food. I had a glasshouse of 600 plants years ago and I used to give the house 300 gallons a day every day.

"Bush" tomatoes work differently. As far as I know they are cultivated to grow minimal side shoots. You don't string 'em up. They just make their own arrangements. I don't know anything about bush tomatoes by the way, but I guarantee there will be an avalanche of opinions within the week. I mention bush types only because of your first photo.

It is rare for vine types to start sprouting side shoots until they are well developed and maybe a foot or so high. But with all the modern messing with genes and that I suppose anything is possible. I have NEVER seena side shoot come out of 'normal' tomato close to the earth as your first photo clearly shows. Maybe you should check the plant in pich darkness to see if it glows? Only joking

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Last edited by walltoall on Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:42 am; edited 2 times in total
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daigo75
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks walltoall, so you recommend me to cut them out, even if they are so big?

What about the side shoots with the tiny flowers? Should I leave them, or should I cut them? Thanks.
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two reasons for removing side shoots, one as walltoall says, but that is really a secondary reason, the principal reason is to guide all the nutrition into the growing point, then into the tomato trusses. If you leave the side shoots, a lot of water and goodness gets diverted to them and tomato crops are very much smaller, they could be hindered enough to not ripen in time as well. Cut out those thicker side shoots that can't be pinched out, flame your knife blade though between plants., if your pinching them out, don't flame your fingers, that hurts a bit Very Happy
Bill.

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daigo75
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Liparis. Then I will proceed to cut these big ones (I find strange, however, that a side shoot is so much bigger than the branch it grew on). Do you think I should put these shoots in the water and try to grow them as separate plants? Or is it not worth the effort?
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been done, they're called x tomatoes believe it or not, but you need a season extending further than we get here to crop them.
Side shoots that are missed, and it's easy done, grow very rapidly and large, it's an indication of how much goodness is being diverted, which is then lost to your crop. Tomatoes are a scrambling plant found originally in forests. Domesticated tomatoes are desperately trying to get back to their natural habit by doing that.
Bill.

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