Give your tomatoes a good time! Tickle, pinch and poke.

It’s still tomato time, so here’s even more tips for getting great tomatoes. i might have to collate them all into their own page before the end of the season!

Hand pollinate your tomato flowers with an old toothbrush. Tickle the insides with a brush then doing the same to other flowers on the same plant transfers the pollen from one to another. You’re just like a Bee!

This technique is particularly important if you are growing your tomatoes in a greenhouse or a netted area. Both of these locations can greatly reduce access by pollinators, so you will have to do the job.

I use a different brush for each variety of tomato I have for the year. Every so often, throughout the season, I’ll give them a good wash with soap and water, then alcohol to stop spreading any possible contaminants that may have been inadverdently picked up. I do the same at the end of the season too, so that the brushes are ready for next year.

Tickle the flowers to ensure good pollination.
Tickle the flowers to ensure good pollination.

On appropriate varieties, continue to pinch out the side stems (or ‘suckers’ if you’re an American) to give the rest of the plant more vigour. The side stems are the ones that come out from the axil , which is where the leaf meets the stem. You mostly have to do this with indeterminate tomatoes (vine or cordon types). Pinching off suckers helps the plant to grow a single strong stem called a ‘leader’ which can be easily trained.

In many varieties of plants, the side stem will only produce leaves and not flowers and fruit. Removing them pumps more energy into the leaves and flowers on other parts of the plant.

Pinch out those side stems.
Pinch out those side stems.

Poke those side shoots into damp potting mix so that they can take root and give you new plants!

Tomatoes are remarkably easy to clone. Practically any part of a stem has the potential to produce roots. We can use that characteristic to our advantage and turn side shoots into new plants for MORE TOMATOES!

Poke the side stems into the ground.
Poke the side stems into the damp potting mix..
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