Nipping out early shoots and taking cuttings

After planting into your growing medium, you will find that your plants will soon put on a growing spurt if the conditions are right.
Now is the time to check your plants weekly for the small side shoots that appear, nipping them out with your fingers is the easiest way, only later in the season when you have larger shoots, should you use a knife.
Be very careful at the top of the plant that you do not mistake a shoot for the growing tip. If in doubt, leave it for a few days. Only bush type tomatoes require you to leave the shoots on and nip out the head at a later stage.

Shoots will produce trusess of tomatoes, but they will be weaker, and be detrimental to the trusses on the main stem, you will also end up with a leggy growing head of your plant. If you notice any damaged leaves at the base of the plant then these can also be removed. But you need at least 4 or 5 leaves below the truss to aid fruit production, so dont be over zealous.
Here is a small video of removing side shoots

Well there has been a lot of post on the grow your own forum this year about taking shoots off the plants for cuttings. One of the members of the forum  has allowed me to show you how she did it, and I will try to keep up with the progress of her cuttings. In fact I might do a few myself.

Taking Tomato Cuttings courtesy of  Down on the Allotment Blog

Just three of my tomato plants were safe in the greenhouse when all the rest were badly frosted a couple of weeks ago. You can see here there are some nice side shoots which I have left to take as cuttings. I don't want to leave them to get too much bigger because that will sap the strength from the parent plant.

So as gently as possible, and trying to avoid the delicate hairs on the stem I broke them off at the base.
Taking off any larger leaves which will stress the seedling, dibbed a hole in some potting compost and planted them as deep as they would go. The new roots will grow from the base and from the hairs on the stem, so I want them to get as good a start in life as I can.  They might sulk for a couple of days, but some bottom heat and a moist atmosphere out of direct sunlight will get them on their way.


  1. Sometimes those side shoots just come from nowhere! I think I go out weekly and nip them all out and then I find a giant of a forked growing tip!

  2. I sometimes manage to make them into cuttings. Occasionally they wilt but some take - free plants!

  3. hi Steve. Great stuff. I predict this blog is going to become a very interesting place! Tomatoes are a big area once one strays from the usual commercial varieties and methods. Interesting that you say not to over-do the removal of lower leaves. My policy is to keep the lower third of the plant free of leaves. This is partly for hygiene reasons (sunlight is a natural fungicide), partly to speed fruit ripening, and also to let light in to underplanted crops. I am a big fan of bi-cropping, and cordon tomatoes are just asking for it. Tomatoes and Oca are a bi-crop match made in heaven. See here for a description.
    If you would like to try it, I could send you some tubers next Winter. I'd be keen to see how well it works under polythene.

  4. Hi Ian ,thanks for your comment, this blog started as a tongue in cheek add on to my partners blog, which is about our garden and our life in France. So I started this just to keep a record mainly for my own use.
    Then the bug got to me and I think I might have opened a can of worms!
    As for my comments about lower leaves, I was really refering to the start of the season, while the trusses are developing. I am all for good air flow around the plants, and you can usually tell just by looking at a leaf that its time to come off.
    Hopefully I will have pictures demonstrating this as the year goes on.
    I am sure i could help with a trial next winter, but in a way I have my own, you might notice the lettuce in between my toms this year! lol.
    It is funny that you are into cycle training, because I own a cycle shop, but not in France, small world, is it not?


  5. Hi
    I have grown my toms from seed (first year growing any kind of tomatoes ). I replanted the seedlings and then after replanted the young plants right up to their seed leaves so they could develop great roots. The tomato plants still aren't very tall but have filled the pots with their roots and are have developed a good cluster of leaves, can I replant them into their final 10 litre pot yet and if so, should I fill the pot and plant them at the top or plant it in about 3/4 of the pot and earth up as they grow?

  6. Hi Anonymous.
    To be honest I never plant deeper, unless I feel the plant is very weak.
    So I would plant so the compost just covers the top of your old pot, when you plant it in the new 10 litre pot.
    I think with the funny weather we are having this year, the sooner they are in their final resting place the better.

  7. could please tell me what feed is required for growing young cuccumber plants. the ones i am growing are telepathy f1. i must say that i have never grown this plant befor as i have always been given one so this is the first time. also do i have to pick any flower of the growth. hope you can help

  8. Hi Geffo

    Feed cucumbers as tomatoes and you cant go wrong.Just half strength when they are first planted out. As telepathy is an F1 I do not think you have to worry about removing flowers, some varieties you have to remove the male ones so as to not have bitter cucumbers.
    If you have the room, grow them like I do. Cut the head off at about 6ft high, and grow the cucumbers on about four shoots, that you train up. Do not leave too many on the stem, just 4 or 5 max. If you see the little cucumbers going yellow, it is because there are too many on the plant, so nip a few small ones off near the growing tips.
    You should find lots of info in my cucumber section from last year, in fact i got 47 from one plant.


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