Tomatoes rocking it in January...

31 January, 2015

As the tomato harvest is now in full swing, I thought I'd do a monthly tomato debrief to force myself to reflect on how the tomato plants in the 'to pinch out or not to pinch out' trial are growing.

This was today's tomato harvest.


As you can see the Brin de Muget toms are killing it, being by far the most prolific. Green Zebra and Sun Sugar have also been fab. For the other tomatoes there are slim pickings individually, but put together the daily harvest is pretty good, but I'm by no means hitting a massive glut yet.

(I say yet with hope that tomato gluts are in my future.)

All of the above tomatoes, with the exception of the Juanne Flamme, were from the free-ranging-not-pinched-out tomatoes.


There is quite a bit of variability in how the tomatoes have grown. All are supposed to be indeterminate tomatoes, meaning they should all be growing tall and slim, rather than short and bunchy.

The two tomatoes here don't however seem to have gotten the message. Of the three tomatoes here (the white sticks at the bottom are the variety labels, so you can see where each plant grows from), the two left are still barely more than a foot tall.


The far left is the Market - Yellow from saved seed, so may actually not be an indeterminate growing tomato. Either way, it hasn't yet set any fruit so I'm a bit disappointed. The next one across is Siberian, which I've grown before and was a bit, though not a lot taller. It has set a fair bit of fruit despite its small stature, so I'm not too fussed.

Other tomatoes in this patch are now taller than I am and are close to hitting 2m tall.


These are the Brin de Muget (on left), Earl of Edgecombe (centre) and Sainte Lucie (on right, before the garden fork). After the garden fork on the far right is the Green Zebra.

Although Brin de Muget has been cropping well, despite being very tall both the Earl of Edgecombe and Sainte Lucie have not set a great deal of fruit. I've been thinning out the lower leaves to improve sunlight to the lower fruit, to try and get what is there to ripen sooner rather than later.

Compare that growth with the area housing the pinched out tomatoes.


Left to right: Earl of Edgecombe, Ananas Noir, Garden Peach, Riesentraube, Market - Black, Juanne Flamme.

Only the Juanne Flamme has given ripe toms as yet, but I reckon the Earl of Edgecombe and Market - Black are not far away. Only the Riesentraube has not yet set fruit.


Left to right: Pink Bumblebee, Sainte Lucie, Gardener's Delight, Big White Pink Stripe, Husky Cherry Gold, Brown Cherry, New Yorker.

Pink Bumblebee, Gardener's Delight and Brown Cherry are almost ripe. Sainte Lucie has set no fruit whatsoever, so I wonder if it needs to be grown with laterals so that it sets fruit. It is flowering though, so this may not be the case. Also with a disturbing lack of tomatoes is Big White Pink Stripe. I've grown this for three years running and not yet had a single fruit. This is the best specimen I've yet grown, and it is flowering, but the flowers are dying off. I have no idea why it doesn't like me. I will not grow it again.

Now while the pinched out tomatoes are noticeably behind the pace, I can't help but think this has a bit to do with this area getting less sun than where the not pinched out tomatoes are. So while I think so far these are less vigorous, and there are less fruiting branched by wont of there being less branches altogether, I can't say categorically the lesser harvests from this area is entirely to do with the different pruning regime. But I will keep you posted.

So that's the January tomato wrap up. How are the tomatoes going in your neck of the woods? (And if it isn't tomato season where you are, what has performed well for you in the past?)   


18 comments:

  1. Love your grouped tomato photo with your white marker pen Bek - very creative.

    It has been a late tomato season for us but they are finally ripening (last year they where ripe for Christmas). However it is the season of tomatoes. All tomato varieties are out producing every other crop. Love tomatoes! Sarhn x

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    1. Cheers Sarhn! I have found many uses for my chalk markers.

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  2. My tomatoes are no where near as prolific as yours. Hopefully with some warmer on the way they will get a move on.

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    1. Oh, given how many plants I have I reckon they could be doing better. I think slow and ongoing soil improvement is key to my crops becoming better over the years. I hope you get the warm weather to ripen yours up!

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  3. Wow! You have so many varieties I've never heard of! I've been pretty unadventurous this year, growing only old favourites like Black Russian, Green Zebra, Burnley, Reisentraube, San Marzano and a pear-shaped one I call Red Cherry. My only 'new' one is Debarao, which is doing well.

    I stopped pruning out side shoots years ago. I figure let the plant do what it wants. The more leaves there are, the more sites for photosynthesis and the more food the plant can make to channel into the fruits. The only pruning I do is to take off any diseased leaves and there are plenty coming now, probably because of the humid weather we've been having in Melb.

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    1. I do love tomato names and have way too many varieties. I have seeds of about 50 but only grew 28 varieties this year. Excessive, I know. I've never heard of Debarao though. Will have to check it out.

      I am agreeing with you. At this stage I think my best bet will be growing them a little more spaced apart, but allowing side shoots and pruning lower leaves when the plants get big and fruit starts to develop. I've got one plant that I'm not training and is sprawling everywhere . It's doing really well. It's been good though that we haven't had really hot days, so no heat/sun damage really to speak of.

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  4. In previous years I had always pinched out all but a couple of the suckers on each plant. And my harvests were pitiful. I must say, however, that the bad harvests were a combination of many factors, not just this one - I made so many mistakes!

    This past year I decided not to remove the suckers - and had a record harvest (for me!), in spite of below seasonal temps for most of the summer. I did thin the plants out a bit at one point (just removing excess side branches, not fruit bearing ones) to improve air circulation in the hopes of at least delaying the onset of disease that a cool, wet summer was likely to promote.

    I also started to remove any new suckers starting in July (which is about 1/2 way through our summer) as I didn't want the plants using up energy to develop vines that wouldn't have time to produce any fruit. You can see in this Harvest Monday post, that these strategies seemed to work very well for me - http://homegrown-adventuresinmygarden.blogspot.ca/2014/09/harvest-monday-september-8-2014.html

    Looking forward to hearing your conclusions at the end of the season!

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    1. Great to hear your perspective and experience. Tomato growing is such a learning curve!
      I don't want to conclude too soon, but I'm thinking not pinching out is the way to go here also. But we shall see what happens by around May when things will have done their dash.
      I've also been planting out the bigger side shoots I've pinched out,which I've never done before. I'll add this to the next report as well. I'll be interested to see if any fruit comes off these plants.

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  5. i love the names of your tomatoes - some are very aristocratic. it's really great to see the varieties you're growing, very different to mine.

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    1. I'm a sucker for an interesting plant name. :)
      I look forward to hearing how your are growing.

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  6. I grew some tomatoes for the first time this season - and was soooo disappointed that they were attacked by ants - they loved the fruit and all! Maybe its the weather here in Perth, perhaps it was far too dry and the ants needed my tomatoes to survive - but it was incredibly disappointing seeing my tomatoes doing so well but then being ruined by the ants.

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    1. Wow, ants. I've never heard of them eating tomatoes! I would be devistated to have that happen. Could you try Vaseline around the stems to stop them travelling up the plants?

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  7. I really only pinch out the bottom part of the plant to help with watering and avoiding the leaves but I tend to leave the reset to get bushy as I figure the leaves help to protect the fruit from the scorching sun

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    1. I'm leaning towards your strategy. I also am thinking pinching out may be more helpful later in the season, when the weather cools and you want to get everything on the plant ripe. The sun is a real killer in our climate. We haven't had that hot a season and I've still got some tomatoes with sun damage.

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  8. Hi Bek, I just found your blog after reading about your amazing garden in The Age today. What do you do with your glut of tomatoes other than tomato sauce? Cheers, Viv 🌞

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    1. Hi Viv. Cheers! I'll be making tomato sauce (i.e. the ketchup type, for want of a better explanation) in addition to my usual passata. Other than that I eat a hell of a lot of tomatoes, and give a lot away of course. :)

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  9. oooh I'd love a link to the article!!

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    1. Hey Lisa. It was published online here ;)
      http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/backyard-farming-queen-keeps-fruit-and-veg-magic-alive-20150214-13au7b.html

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