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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Truncating TRIFFIDs

The TRIFFID tomatoes were never going to make it until the plant-out date of Memorial weekend. They were almost 2-feet tall and getting very spindly. So I decided to try something I've never done before: tip rooting. Here you take off the growing tip of the plant and try to root them like a softwood cutting. I took each plant and cut off the top 8-10", cut off about half of the remaining leaves, then I repotted them back into the 16oz cups.

I did this to 30 plants. The only ones that evaded the knife were the 4 Reisentraube grape tomatoes which I simply potted up into gallon containers. They are so robust that I didn't have the heart (or guts!) to risk losing them. Bottom line, what's the worst that can happen if this experiment goes south? I would have to BUY TOMATO plants from a nursery. I guess I could live with that... ;-D

This is just one more thing I've learned about in the Tomato Forum. You can also root tomato suckers this way, too. So if a friend has a type of tomato you covet, ask for a sucker off the plant and root it this way. No need to grow from seed for that season.

Honestly, I can't keep track of all the tips I've learned since joining GardenWeb last year. It's really stretching me as a gardener. Best bonus is that I'm making new friends and sharing experiences with folks with the same trials, tribulations and triumphs. Thanks gang!

Meanwhile, back in the basement plant lab, here is a pic of the 30 truncated toms resting on the warming tray under lights. It's been almost 3 full days since they were repotted and they don't look too bad. The soil temps are about 72F, so should help promote root growth. When they need a little water, I'm thinking I might add some liquid root stimulator I use when installing store-bought shrubs and perennials . Keep your fingers crossed for me!

As for the "2nd string" toms and peppers from the deck? They have graduated into the main hoop house. *sigh* My babies are growing up so fast. *sniffle*

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  1. I'm so jealous - most of my tomato plants in the basement were wiped out QUICKLY this week. Seems like it's a combination of a TON of aphids (where did THOSE come from!?) and maybe my switching the tomato plants off their heat mat after I potted them up. (I also use the red plastic party cups!) So now I've got to see what can be salvaged, and then decide whether or not I have to consider BUYING plants. I know they won't be my really cool heirloom varieties...

    I'm still really bummed about this.

    My word verification for this entry is "aurgist", but it looks more like "angst" to me right now...

    BTW - I've had times in the past where I had a pile of cast off suckers sit too long outside, and then get rained on, and then take root and become perfectly good tomato plants. So I bet you find your experiment works out quite well!

  2. Thanks for the good info about the suckers, Jeph. I'll keep ya posted on what goes on in the secret plant lab...wooohaha!

  3. Jeph, also sorry about your heirloom loss... :-(

  4. Hello there! I'm trying to grow a couple of tomatoes too. I'm trying to look for the start of your tomato series but I can't find it. Point me in the right direction please. ;-)

  5. Hi Chris (and the tomato, of course!). Try the additional label of "GUL - toms and peps". That's about where the seeds hit the soil. You can also catch a few pics on the "GUL - plants and seeds". Enjoy your search - and thanks for visiting! :-D

  6. My tomato says hi too. ;-) From what I gathered, you started early March. That means your pictures here are for 1 1/2 old seedlings. They're pretty big. Well done.

  7. Hello Chris again. In 2009 I started the tomatoes in early March. This year (2010) my tomato seeds didn't hit soil until April 1st. I'm trying to avoid the huge overgrowth I got last year by starting back in March. Hopefully this year they will be more behaved. ;-D (But you know 'maters. They will play....

  8. I think that's a great problem to have (the overgrowth). I'm just worried about my tomatoes growing at all. It's taking soooooo long

  9. Chris - I use a week organic fertilizer when I pot them in the cups. Also a teeny bit of root stimulator. ;-D

  10. I give my plants regular doses of diluted urine. Free nitrogen!


Looking forward to hearing from you. :-D