I have this thing about not being able to throw away plants. Thinning out is something that is only done when absolutely necessary, bolting lettuces – well I get rid of them eventually and as for sickly seedlings they have to be pretty much brown and totally unrecognisable before I am convinced they won’t make it and need composting.
Then we come to tomato side shoots!
Tomato side shoots are what we call the new branches that like to grow between an existing leaf stem and the main stem on a tomato plant, as shown in this post here. For varieties that grow as a bush, this isn’t an issue but if you are growing tall, upright ‘cordon’ varieties, then it is commonly accepted that removing the side shoots is the sensible thing to do because it enables the plant to throw all its’ energy into fruit production. Of course removal of the sides shoots gives the gardener an opportunity to supplement his or her tomato growing crop because if you pop the stem of the side shoot into some compost/soil and water it, then there is a good chance it will root and, voila, you have an almost instant tomato plant. Handy if you haven’t managed to raise many to maturity or the slugs have got to them etc. I also find that side shoot plants start to develop trusses really quickly, perhaps as a result of coming off a mature/maturing plant and already having the chemicals needed for fruit development.
But here’s the thing, I plant quite a few of these side shoots because (usually) not all of them will go on to develop roots and become a plant in their own right. The few that do eventually get planted out or potted up and Bob’s your Uncle, more than enough tomatoes for Mudville. So, the other week whilst nipping out the side shoots on the Stupice tomatoes, I popped them all into three large round pots, watered them and left them to it – 15 side shoots in all, plus 1 much needed Chocolate Cherry side shoot and they have all survived!
With 6 tomato plants in the little greenhouse and another 4 outside, there was absolutely no way I could keep all 16 of the new ones! Gulp! That meant some of them would have to be ……… composted!!!
The Chocolate Cherry would be kept anyway because I have only managed to raise two out of around 12 seeds sown (another 5 out of 12 at school). The Amish Paste tomato which had been planted into a tub outside had been dealt a death blow by slugs (which are proving to be a real problem this year) and so the Chocolate Cherry side shoot plant went into its’ tub and is looking good so far. It already has a truss forming.
What to do with 15 Stupice plants. Well try as I might I could only fit 5 of them into the garden, bearing in mind the crop rotation implications for the potatoes next year. I selected the 5 strongest from the three pots and, as it happened, all of them were actually flowering! Four of them have gone into the leek and courgette raised beds, against canes tied to the wire netting frame, as the nets won’t be needed on those beds this year. The fifth took the place of one of the outside cucumbers (another slug victim), against the main vegetable/lawn dividing fence. I quickly consigned the rest of the tomato side shoots to the compost bin and got on with more planting out.
Actually the next job was the potting on of the chilli plants. All of them needed doing, except the three Little Elf Chillies that I had sown last August but which are now fruiting. The huge Ohnivec plants went into the largest pots I had, against bamboo canes which made them too tall for the sloping roof of the greenhouse and so I put one of our all purpose black plastic shelves onto the floor and placed the seven pots on this. Hopefully, raising them of the concrete pad this way will help prevent the pesky slugs getting to them so easily and will also stop them getting waterlogged if it rains – the base isn’t sealed and so water can run freely in and out of the greenhouse. I also took the decision to start moving the Ohnivec chillies outside during the day, as I believe they will grow much better if exposed to natural, unfiltered sunlight and rain: they do still spend the night in the greenhouse though, as the temperatures at night can drop quite sharply.
This is a bit of an experiment and I have also taken to putting two of the Cayennes outside during the day, to see how they do compared to those spending 100% of the time in the greenhouse. Obviously if we were having a very rainy spell then I’d look at rethinking how much time outside these plants had but even on a wet day I think they would do okay.
Planting out more mangetout and bean seedlings was the last job of the day, and there are now 6 more of each variety of mangetout planted against the wigwams. Talking of mangetout, the ‘Bijou’ pods are now growing and the longest one is currently 4.5 inches in length and almost 1 inch across (I measured it). They are truly enormous and I had to double check with the Real Seed Catalogue about the length these pod grow to and we are currently 2.5 inches short on length. Yes, you read that correctly. The total length for one of these pods is a staggering 7 inches!!! I can’t wait to try one. The yellow pods of the Golden Sweet mangetout are delicious and I would recommend them to anyone wanting something that looks a little different in their garden. They are a standard sized mangetout but have a lovely taste to them, as well as looking pretty in the garden.
I still have jobs to do, such as the rest of the leeks to plant out and a load more weeding and the Mudlets have their patch to weed as well. I’ll try get a photo of their vegetable patch later, as it is looking pretty impressive with the little pea plants and dozens and dozens of carrot seedlings. Elsewhere in the garden, the first of the main crop potatoes are flowering, a Hokkaido Squash has set and is swelling nicely, the flowers on the sweetcorn are beginning to show themselves and we have the first tiny runner beans on the plants which is fantastic news for me, when you consider that I have grown these from saved seed.
All is looking green and productive, down in my garden.