Saturday, 29 August 2009

And the secret to life, the universe & growing tomatos is...

...Counterintuitive. In general, as a gardener, you seek to nurture and grow things. Whilst roses and the like might require pruning, vegetables on the whole require growing. It seems that tomatos may be a bit of an exception to this rule. For years, as I said, I've grown lush crops of tomato leaves, but not quite so many actual ripe tomatos. I am now suspecting that pruning is the key. I'm not talking here about taking out the side shoots of indeterminant tomatos (although it has taken me years to do that), but pruning most of the leaves off.

This is currently more hypothesis than an established fact for me, but the evidence is growing. I started toying with the idea when I saw an episode of River Cottage where Blight strikes in the polytunnels and Hugh's organic guru advocates stripping the leaves off. This was news to me - my experience suggests that once you spot blight, you can say goodbye to your tomato crop. In the DVD at least, if not reality, Hugh apparently went on to have a crop of tomatos.

With this in mind, I've been savaging my toms whenever I spot a blight like leaf. However, I might have to go a step further if I follow the advice that I encountered on the Net today. Someone was trying to flog their e-book on the subject of growing toms and advocating taking off all but three leaves as a pre-emptive strike to blight. The plants then apparently focus their energy on the fruit and blight is less likely to get a hold because there's better air flow. Oh, it looks like bedtime. That's quite enough hypothesising about tomato growing for the day anyway.

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