Tomatoes rocking it in March...

31 March, 2015

Well, there aren't many. I have picked precisely three tomatoes in the last week. They were so disappointing I couldn't even bring myself to photograph them.

This time last year I had lots of green fruit still to ripen in March. This year the plants are pretty much done for now.

This is the main tomato patch in the front yard.


As you can see there are still a few tomatoes to ripen, but its few and far between.

There are still a few green tomatoes, and occasionally an optimistic flower. 


I'm not sure that these are mature enough to properly ripen. Over the long Easter weekend I'm thinking of pulling these out and seeing if they will ripen indoors. I may even try fried green tomatoes.

The raised bed veg patch tomatoes are no better.



There are very few tomatoes going on here now. These will also get pulled out this weekend to make way for winter crops.

So with the tomato plants on the way out, it feels apt to wrap up the trial of to pinch out or not to pinch out. My assessment is that pinching out tomatoes is not worthwhile in my garden. The pinched out tomatoes were much less protected from the sun and dried out much earlier, despite being in a more shaded position. This may partly be due to the raised beds they were planted in, but not entirely.

That said, I think there is a place for judicious pinching out of lower leaves. The not pinched out tomatoes grew much more strongly, but they were also more diseased, and I think they were crowded which limited fruit set a bit.

Plan for 2015/16 tomatoes:
  • Plant out wider apart - at least 60cms between plants
  • Don't pinch out lower leaves UNTIL the plants start to set fruit
Now I just have to wait until spring to do it all again.

12 comments:

  1. 60 cm is the distance I used to plant my tomatoes when I grew them. And really they were too close like that, but I think they produced well with that spacing.

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    1. In our climate I think it's a balance between crowding plants and making sure you have enough ground over to prevent water loss. It's a fine line though.

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  2. I also spaced my tomatoes at 60 cm last year and had a bumper crop, even with the cool, wet summer weather that reeked havoc later in the season in the form of late blight. I also let all of the suckers grow, only starting to pinch them out in mid-summer - these wouldn't have time to develop any tomatoes anyhow, so I'd rather the energy be directed towards the existing branches.

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    1. Hmmm, interesting. Thanks for the detail.

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  3. I'm ahead of you...I pulled all mine out last week. I can't remember last March here, but this one was about the same as yours. They all went downhill very quickly. Still plenty of green fruit (on the cherries mostly), but the plants themselves looked dreadful. I'll do as you did and take cuttings from the plants next season, instead of trying to succession-plant seed. It's a lot quicker. I had good earlier yields so didn't bother seeing if the green ones would ripen...just tossed them on the burn heap.

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    1. The only way I remember is by looking at last year's posts for this time of year. My memory alone is completely insufficient. I had good yeilds but with the preserving of passata and salsa I'm all out. I'm not quite yet prepared to let them all go, but most will be pulled out this weekend.

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  4. I love to see how your season wanes while ours waxes. This earth is so amazing and spectacular - thanks for sharing!

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    1. I find the same thing. I'm loving reading about spring by the northern hemisphere bloggers, which is also making me a little jealous about starting tomatoes and other summer crops just as our on the way out.

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  5. I believe in pinching off any leaves that touch the ground, because in watering you might splash diseases up onto the leaves.

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    1. I find I need to pinch off more than just the lower leaves for that. At least a foot or so up the plant. And I've previously tried digging in water bottles with the ends cut off (originally used as cloches, but easily converted to direct roots waterers) so that I get less splashing up. But I confess to have been lazy with preventing water splashes and allowing opportunity for soil borne diseases to make their way up onto the plant.

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  6. i'm a convert to pinching out, if only for the therapeutic/addictive nature of hunting out laterals to remove! I don't think my dad would let me get away with NOT pinching out.
    and I think I need to plant out wider too; their close proximity made things a bit impractical towards the end. thanks for the reminders.

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    1. Yes, it is very therapeutic! I find pruning and tying up the espaliers meditative as well.
      Good to hear I'm not the only one who plants too close :)

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