Where there is a will there is a way

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to pinch off the laterals (side shoots) on tomato plants

I really did not get this "remove the laterals" (side-shoots) thing until almost too late. Luckily, I had an arborist friend who had luckily also worked at a tomato greenhouse in the past explain the principle behind it.

It seems that tomato plants would grow off in many directions, starting a new main division at each branch. (It's that little one that grows in the wedge above the side branch). If you leave that innocent little shoot in growing out of that plant's armpit there, it will grow huge in the branch and take the plant in that direction as well. When you pinch them off (easy to break off), then you have a plant that grows up and is easier to stake and control. The tomatoes you do have will be larger - although they will be fewer.

Check out this lateral (side-shoot) which has been left to grow!

By the way, I planted about 15 tomato plants of various varieties, then left to go camping for a week or two. When I returned, it was too late! My veggie garden was a jungle of rambling plants. Maybe that would have been fine for some - but I needed to impose some control, so I did. (And I wanted to learn how to do it the right way for next time.) After removing laterals was explained to me, I had to remove half the plants, learning the hard way, and keep only those young enough to prune. Better luck next year... I guess some people (like me) have to just learn by experiencing the burn.

Note:  it's now the next year after this, and  I am experimenting with not pruning them.  But they have enough space.  I plan to stake and support all the branches.  It's a hot summer, so I hope they will still produce well.  Updates here.


Ruby in the Dust said...

yes, pinching them out makes sense when you understand the reasoning behind it! I like the blog make-over, by the way :)

Nonavee Dale said...

Hi Ruby in the Dust!

Yes - I was just about to change it back, superstitiously. What happened was that I accidentally erased that main header picture. Then I liked how simple it was - simple like Google.

But then I worried that I was too jumpy. Thanks for the advice! Now I will leave it.

Eryl Latham said...

Thank you at last instructions I understand.
It was a suprise seeing your name as our eldest son called his Grandmother Nonnie as did the following children and she loved having what she thought was a unique name.Ryl

Anonymous said...

Finally I get it! Thank you so much for the clear pictures and explanation.