It’s been a busy old weekend this weekend with numerous jobs needing to be caught up on, one of which was the re-organisation of the small greenhouse to allow me to set up the growbags and supports for the cucumbers and tomatoes and which can be seen here.
It was whilst planting the tomato plants out that I realised there was another job that needed doing and that was the nipping out of side shoots (also known by some as ‘armpits’).
As a newbie grower I was often baffled by some of the terminology that was used in books, magazines and on forums and was too embarrassed to ask what could possibly be a really stupid question. Tomato side shoots/armpits and the treatment there of, was one of those topic. Eventually I came across some information, explaining about this phenomena and how to deal with it and realised that it wasn’t anything to be scared of or worried about.
First things first: you need to figure out if your variety of tomato is cordon or bush. If it is a cordon tomato then you will need to ‘nip’ out the side shoots which form in the crease between the leaf and the main stem, to ensure maximum fruit production. If the plant is putting its’ energy into growing more branches the volume of tomatoes produced could be affected.
DO NOT remove the side shoots on a bush variety.
So to remove the side shoots is very easy:
Identify that the item you are about to remove is a side shoot and not a truss. This should be easy enough as the side shoots form in the crease on the leaf/stem joint and trusses form mid stem above the leaf joint. Then using a sharp pair of scissors, secateurs or your nails, nip the side shoot as close to its’ base as possible without damaging the main stem.
Side shoots forming in crease of leaf to stem joint
By immediately tucking the end of the nipped off shoot into a pot of moist compost, it is also possible to grow these side shoots into plants in their own right and get another crop of tomatoes from them.
And there you have it – job done!