My experience in forming tomatoes to extend fruiting
Tomatoes come from Peru, where the climate is very hot and arid, hence their requirements for conditions. How to provide native conditions to tomatoes in our climate? For example, they grow in the open ground, and the summer is cool, and it rains very often. At the same time, I want the bush to bear fruit until the fall, and give the fruit, as they say on a bag of seeds - 10 kg from the bush. In order to provide this southerner with comfortable conditions and, accordingly, a big harvest for himself, you need to be able to properly form a bush.
All that tomatoes need for long-term fruiting:
- well-lit place;
- optimal temperature (it should be warm, but not too hot, because at a temperature of +36 ° C tomato pollen becomes sterile and does not fertilize);
- the soil at the roots should be moderately moist, and the air should be dry;
- plants should be well ventilated.
A good half of these requirements can be ensured by the correct formation of tomatoes.
Determinate tomato formation
So, the determinant tomatoes - undersized, with limited growth, begin to lay the 1st flower brush after 8-9 leaves. And plant growth ends with the 5th – 6th brush.
It is better to form such tomatoes in two stems, first from the very bottom removing all stepsons (stalks) in the sinus of the leaf, plucking them or cutting them, leaving the stump. And when the first flower ovary appears, you must leave one stepson immediately below it. It is believed that this stepson is the strongest, and then he should be stepson as well as the main trunk.
Stepsons are best when stepsons are still small (3-4 cm in length) so that the plant does not lose its strength in growing an unnecessary stem. Otherwise, this stem will grow very quickly and become huge, like the main trunk, and it will also have flower ovaries, but only the fruits will be small. That is, there will be no use from such a bush.
In addition, each such useless branch (and they grow from the sinus of each leaf) will also have its stepsons, etc. And over time, your tomato will turn into a furry Christmas tree - there will be many leaves, and there may not be any fruits at all. Therefore, it is necessary to stepchild, even if these are determinant tomatoes.
By the way, how to distinguish a stepson from a flower ovary? Both grow from the bosom of the leaf, but the flower ovary will have only buds and there will never be leaves, if there are leaves - this is stepson, feel free to remove it.
Lower leaf removal
So, I want to extend the fruiting of tomatoes, which means that they must be healthy, and for this to be well ventilated so that it does not come to late blight. First of all, I'm stepson, as described above. And one more event that I will definitely carry out is removing the bottom leaves. I cut it off with scissors, leaving a 1 cm stump. Some tear it off, but this must be done very carefully, since a bush can be cut.
It is necessary to remove no more than 1-2 sheets at a time, and this should be done no more than 1 time per week, in sunny, dry weather, so that the wounds quickly heal. Thus, over time, I have a naked tomato below, some stumps from leaves and fruits, and all the greens will be on top of the bush.
Only here we must not overdo it. For normal fruiting, the bush requires at least 10 large, developed leaves. On the other hand, those leaves that I cut off, they had already served their own and would only take strength from the bush. And even worse, they wouldn’t let the bush get a good ventilation, it would be wet all the time. And dry air is the key to the health of the bush. Plus - these leaves would serve as a source of constant infection.
Shaping Cherry Tomatoes
Separately, I isolated cherry tomatoes for myself. They are sweeter than ordinary tomatoes, but otherwise they are the same tomatoes. Cherry is a determinant variety, undersized, with limited growth, and it would be logical to lead them into two trunks, but, in my experience, in this case the yield will be extremely small.
Cherry I do not stepson, but let them grow as they are. They are excellent fruiting from stepsons and eventually become like a small shaggy Christmas tree with red balls. There are so many fruits that I don’t know how to collect them! Fruits each stepson is very plentiful.
What then to do with airing the bush? After all, there is a danger of late blight. As I wrote above, all my tomatoes grow in the open ground - that is, it rains, then the sun, they get from all sides.
So what am I doing with the Cherry? I still cut them the bottom leaves, maybe 2-3 sheets. And when planting in the ground, I have intervals between bushes of approximately 80 cm. That's all, I do nothing more for them in terms of ventilation, and this is enough. We usually eat cherry until the end of September (I live in the south, this also needs to be taken into account).
Formation of indeterminate tomato varieties
Indeterminate tomatoes have unlimited growth. Usually their first flower ovary appears after the 10-12th leaf, and the following brushes appear every 2-3 leaves. On average, during the summer manages to mature up to 6 brushes.
If not for the climatic conditions, these tomatoes would grow themselves further. But for central Russia, the growth of indeterminate tomatoes has to be limited (you need to pinch the top) so that the fruits that have already begun to ripen have time to ripen. And this should be done already in early August. And for the south, this can be done a little later - in late August or early September.
It all depends on night temperatures. Tomato is a southern plant, and with a prolonged decrease in temperature to + 8 ... + 12 ° C, it ceases to absorb nutrients from the soil and, moreover, is affected by late blight.
Therefore, the steps to pinch and remove the lower leaves are still the same as those described above for determinate varieties. However, I want to note that here the bush must be formed in one trunk, because this type of tomato manages to give a lot of flower ovaries. In addition, they are usually large-fruited tomatoes, and in order to allow the fruits to grow like this, you need to remove all unnecessary.
Other conditions for prolonged fruiting of tomatoes
How to ensure good illumination of tomatoes?
Tomatoes are very photophilous plants. I solved the problem for myself as follows - I have a minimum distance of 50 cm between the plants on the bed, and 80 cm in the case of cherry trees. I have more than a meter of passage between the beds - I made passages from the shank from the shovel. My neighbor, as I saw such a "squandering", nearly fainted.
Squandering? Probably yes. But for me there are only pluses from these giant passages. Firstly - it’s just convenient, you can easily go to any plant, and sometimes even drive up with a car. And such wide aisles can simply be slanted with a trimer. And secondly, and this is probably the most important thing - with this planting of tomatoes, they literally bathe in the sun all day.
Also, I wrote above, the condition for long-term fruiting is moderate soil moisture, with dry air. Stitching and removing leaves is already half the success. It remains only to carefully pour the bush from the hose (best with a spray at the end) under the root and mulch with something.
I cover the ground with mowed grass, letting it dry out first in the sun. I water it over the grass, it dries quickly, and the ground under it remains wet. Thus, tomatoes should be watered no more than once every 3-4 days. Below, besides, there are no leaves, only a bare trunk, which also dries quickly. And all the green mass above will be so dry, its water will not touch.
I also want to note that the tomato must be tied up. This plant has a weak trunk that cannot bear the brunt of leaves and fruits. Without support, the plant will fall to the ground.
And so that the plant is well ventilated, healthy and fruitful for a long time, it is not enough to remove the stepsons and part of the leaves. After all, if at the same time we leave it to grow lying on the ground, then we will not see a good and even longer crop, all for the same reason - late blight, and even there will be little sun.
Therefore, I recommend tying up tomatoes. Everyone does it his own way. Someone drives sticks into the ground, huge pointed stakes and ties each plant, someone ties to arcs. I think this is not important. It’s more convenient for me to dig in U-shaped trellises from wooden slats (they are reusable), and I already tie each plant to a transverse rail with a synthetic rope.
Someone does this with twine. Whoever you like. If the plant is formed into one trunk, then I tie it up, first making a large loop (with a margin of growth, the trunk will grow thicker), and then twist the rope around the trunk counterclockwise to the top and not tightly tie it to the transverse rail. If that, then I will tighten.
What you need to spin counterclockwise is an important point. Since the tomato turns behind the sun, and if the rope is wound somehow differently, then it just gets off it.
If the tomato is determinant and it has 2 trunks, then I tie them both. In the case of cherry, I tie several ropes from different sides so that the branches do not lie on the ground.
By the way, last year I didn’t have enough rails for all the tomatoes and two cherry bushes remained on the ground. The result was such a spontaneous experiment - the harvest from these bushes was much more modest compared to the rest, and the fruits began to rot even on the branch. Therefore, you still need to tie up.
Dear readers! I want to summarize all of the above: the most important thing to remember when growing tomatoes is where it comes from - this is a warm, arid region. Hence the necessary care - he needs to provide conditions as close as possible to his homeland, namely: good illumination, dry air, ventilation, moderate soil moisture.