Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some hints about sideshoots

I grow tomatoes in Cheshire, some in the greenhouse and some outside on the patio. They usually go into pots the size of buckets, which means they can be moved around, often necessary to ensure they stay watered when I am not around.
No matter how vigilant I am hunting for sideshoots on my tomatoes, there's always one I miss. They even re-grow sneakily where I think I have already pinched them out. If I go away for a few days, there can be shoots several centimetres long, they grow at such a rate. But all is not lost. Instead of putting them all in the compost, I stick a few of the shoots into a glass of water and in about a week there are lovely little white roots, all ready for growing on. Free plants! They are particularly useful when the original plants are getting rather tired, as by then they are big enough to start fruiting. Last year I was able to extend the season for Sungella very successfully with a second generation and the cherry tomatoes Red Cherry grown from the shoots were still bearing heavily outside right until the frosts, though the taste was rather sharp and the skins tough. They were still useful cooked and pureed. Perhaps they were so small that they were still able to ripen despite the shorter days.
This year's plants, started on the windowsill in January, are coming along quite nicely, especially Legend and Marmande, but there is a long way to go to match the Hamburg crops.

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