Of course, anyone who grows tomatoes also wants to enjoy the fruits of their labor – and the more, bigger and better quality, the better. The so-called tomato pinching helps the grower to shift the focus of development and growth from the plant itself to its fruit. What is meant by this and how it works is explained in detail below.
Cut out tomatoes
Picking the tomato is actually a fairly simple process. Done right and at the right time, it will result in a more plentiful and higher quality harvest. The pruning process is carried out in such a way that unnecessary shoots are removed from the tomato plant. This achieves several useful effects:
- Nutrients : Since the plant is deprived of various shoots, the growth from the existing resources of nutrients and water is increasingly concentrated on the remaining shoots and the actual fruit. As a result, the growth of the tomato can be specifically controlled. In addition, the retained shoots develop better and faster and are thus able to produce even more fruit. But the individual tomatoes also get more power from the plant and can therefore achieve larger dimensions with better quality.
- Sun : Less shoots on the plant ultimately means fewer shoots that shade each other. The remaining fruit-bearing branches therefore receive more sun, which ultimately benefits the quality of the later harvested tomatoes.
- Space : If there are too many shoots, they interfere with each other and only offer the fruits limited space to develop. As a result, the grower does not get large tomatoes, but an excessive number of small fruits. Because each branch forms fruit buds, which then find too little space (and energy) for a satisfactory development.
These shoots have to go
Which shoots of the tomatoes have to be removed is easy to determine, even for the layman. The plant consists of a main stem that grows up from the ground. The growth shoots on which the tomatoes will later develop grow laterally from this main shoot. Additional shoots form in the throat between the main shoot and the growth shoot, which actually serve to increase the leaf mass of the plant for even better plant development through even more photosynthesis. However, it is precisely these shoots that should be removed when cultivating tomatoes. With a little experience, you can immediately recognize the shoots to be broken out. At the beginning one can say that the later developing and therefore smallest shoots between the vertical main shoot and the fully grown and well developed side shoot must be removed.
When removing the stinging shoots, unwanted shoots should simply be broken out to the side or clipped off with a thumbnail. However, cutting with a knife or scissors should be avoided. The resulting smooth cuts tend to secrete excessive plant sap, which unnecessarily weakens the plant and can result in further damage to the main shoot that is actually desired. In addition, there is a great danger of damaging the desired shoots, especially with a knife, when cutting out the narrow area between the desired shoots.
Hygiene should not be completely ignored during this process. It is less about contamination of the skinny areas with soil, in which the tomatoes grow anyway. However, plants can also become infected in damaged areas, so that diseases can be transmitted from plant to plant, especially when they are used to the full. If a tomato plant is already visibly damaged, you should wash your hands before moving to the neighboring plant.
timing and frequency
There is no right time to remove the stinging shoots. Because when cutting tomatoes, it is much more a process that has to be carried out again and again, since tomatoes, like all other plants, are even stimulated to grow even more when shoots are removed and thus new stingy shoots are formed again and again.
However, the timing and frequency of pinching can be summed up fairly well as follows:
- Carry out stinging shoots regularly from June onwards if the plants are developing accordingly
- Check plants once a week for new shoots and remove them
- Remove shoots in the morning, as the damaged areas on the twigs close more quickly during the day due to exposure to the sun
- do not use up when it rains, as the plants then produce more plant sap, which then bleeds out at the damaged area
Exceptions – tomatoes are not always the best choice
Even if almost all common tomato varieties can be used to increase yields as described, there are still a few exceptions. Above all, all varieties related to bush tomatoes should be left out of the tomato exhaustion. As the name suggests, bush tomatoes should explicitly grow in the bush shape that is undesirable in other varieties. Removing shoots would therefore be counterproductive and would only damage and weaken the plant.
Other ways to avoid stinginess
The more tomatoes that grow in the home garden, the greater the effort involved in locating and removing stinging shoots. Logically, many hobby gardeners are therefore looking for ways to prevent the formation of unwanted shoots from the outset. It should be said at this point that there is no way to limit the growth of the plant solely to the shoots desired by the gardener. However, the willingness to shoot of the tomato plant can definitely be influenced. The less light the plant receives, the more shoots it forms in order to be able to use the little light even more effectively with even more leaf mass. Therefore, both the young plant being reared and the fully grown tomato outdoors should always have sufficient light.
The pinching process can be further improved by various preparatory and supporting measures, since this not only removes unwanted branches from the tomatoes. You will also be supported again in the development of the desired shoots. These are:
- Preparation of an optimal soil condition
- good site choice with high exposure
- adequate water supply
- high nutrient supply