When growing tomatoes in a Polytunnel, the ultimate goal is getting the maximum yield of crops, with the best possible flavour, so pruning your plants, removing any unwanted shoots and leaves is an important part of ensuring that majority of the energy and nutrients are sent straight to the fruits, instead of being wasted on the unwanted growing tips at the expense of the fruit.
So here’s what you should do
Remove all shoots and leaves just below the first cluster of flowers. When growing a tomato plant although they will try to grow bushy, the aim is to have a single stem. To remove a shoot, look in the joints for tiny suckers which grow in the “V” space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant. If a sucker is less than 2 inches, grab it by the base between the thumb and forefinger, and bend it back and forth until it snaps cleanly. This should ideally be done when the shoot is young and supple as the small wound will heal quickly. This is called “simple pruning”. If the shoot is over 2 inches long, use a sharp knife or cut over sized side shoots with scissors as a large wound could allow disease to make its way into the plant.
Remove leaves as the plant begins to mature, the lower leaves will naturally begin to yellow and wilt. This is perfectly normal, so pull these from the plant when they appear. It will keep the plant fresh, looking good, and help ward off disease. Removing these leaves will also allow extra light.
Try to have four or five fruit bearing trusses growing from the stem, and then pinch out any additional side shoots, leaving the plant’s top shoot intact. This should ensure that all fruit ripens well.
Pick as soon as the fruits are ripe as this will encourage the production of more fruit. (colour and size will identify this) For the best flavour – eat as soon as possible. It really is that simple. It’s a chore that can be done while watering or weeding, and one that will result in healthier plants and bigger, tastier fruits with very little effort.
Originally posted 2011-06-13 16:03:02.