Removing sideshoots

Making sure you prune sideshoots from your tomato plant regularly will ensure that it stays healthy. Keep your cuttings and use them to make new plants to increase your own crop or give them to friends.

Removing sideshoots produces a single stem, or cordon, which makes your plants easier to support and admits more air and water to their fruits. There is no need to remove sideshoots from bush or trailing types. The sideshoots form in every leaf axil—pinch them off regularly as soon as they can be handled. Cut off larger sideshoots at their bases to avoid tearing the main stem. In very hot climates, allow each sideshoot to produce one leaf. This will protect the fruits from potential sun damage. When the cordon reaches the top of its support, pinch off the growing tips to encourage the fruits to ripen; also pinch off any flowers toward the end of the season. To create new plants, take side shoots early in the season, so that the new plants have long enough to ripen their fruits.

CUTTINGS ARE EASY! - recycle sideshoots into new plants

1 Choose a sideshoot that is reasonably firm at its base and can be handled easily, and snap it cleanly from the main stem.

2 Place the sideshoot in a jar or glass of clean water. Brown glass aids speedy rooting, but roots should appear anyway within a week.

3 Pot the sideshoot carefully, once its roots are at least V2-3/4in (1-2cm) long, in a pot of seed mix.

4 Firm gently to avoid damaging the fragile roots, and water in. Grow the cutting in the same way as a new seedling (pp94-95).

Large sideshoots of 12in (30cm) or more will root successfully, but keep them shaded or they may wilt.

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