The tomato plant is the delight of gardeners but also nurserymen because it is by far the most sold. It must be said that the tomato is a sacred star, in the garden as in the kitchen. Many gardeners proceed to the pinching of the secondary stems which they liken to suckers. These stems are accused of weakening tomato plants by developing to the detriment of the main stem. Gold, Solanum tomato is a plant that does not produce suckers. What about then? Let’s take stock of this small gesture which perpetuates a tradition and for which opinions differ, then let’s look at how to proceed to pinch the tomatoes, not without first seeing if it is really useful.
Pinch the tomatoes: opinions are divided
Whether you sow your tomatoes or transplant commercial plants, you are happy to see that the growth of this annual plant of the family of Solanaceae is super fast. If some gardeners leave it to nature in view of abundant harvests, others on the contrary rush into their garden, sharp nails and sharp secateurs, to pinch their tomatoes.
This gesture has been practiced for a long time in order to limit the number of rods in order to easier to stake your tomatoes with a stake or two at most per foot. But the plants being reduced in size, we reduce the planting distances to grow more, yield requires. It seems that apart from this question of staking to manage, the pinching does not really have to be.
Today, the habits and customs being transmitted from generation to generation, this practice is more a tradition than a necessity. It is enough to use small or large tomato cages (depending on whether varieties with a determinate habit or an indeterminate habit are grown) to produce abundantly since with cages, no need to pinch secondary branches of plants.
Pinching resulting in less fruit production due to the removal of many stems, its only real advantage could be, logically, to allow a harvest of larger tomatoes. This subject is in any case at the heart of a debate which opposes two clans of gardeners: the followers of pinching and the anti-pinching.
Arguments made in favor of tomato pinching
Proponents of tomato pinching are adamant that secondary stalks are unnecessary. For them, it is essential to control the growth of their plants, the challenge being all the same to produce fruits and not stems! Attacking these famous greedy (which in reality are not) would therefore allow each tomato plant to use its energy to bear fruit and carry out its fruits until complete maturity.
Letting tomato plants grow freely is therefore not the right solution for pinching pros since unwanted shoots have a reputation for exhausting the plant and being responsible for poor harvests. Their goal is each year to limit the emission of side rods on the grounds that they grow visibly and branch out endlessly, needlessly consuming the plant’s energy. These stems that they call the greedy would be sterile, that is to say that they would not produce flowers (therefore no fruit). We even hear loud and clear that by dint of developing, they prevent the sun and heat from penetrating the heart of the plant, which does not promote the growth or ripening of tomatoes.
So these gardeners keep only the parent branch. This is where pinching tomatoes takes on its full meaning for its enthusiasts.
Arguments of gardeners against tomato pinching
These gardeners assume that a tomato plant should be able to develop freely to produce a maximum of secondary stems on which to develop fruits. Because, contrary to what is frequently asserted, the secondary stems tomatoes are indeed fertile and are therefore not greedy. Let us recall here, if need be, that a sucker is a stem which is in fact sterile and unnecessarily exhausts the plant. But that’s not about tomatoes.
The tomato does not produce suckers, so it is quite possible and even advisable to keep its secondary stems including the multiple leaves provide energy to the plant through photosynthesis. When the time comes, the anti-pinch gardener will see his harvest doubled.
Pinching your tomatoes: method to follow
The principle of pinching is to eliminate, from May or June, all the buds secondary as they appear in order to preserve the vigor of the tomato plant. The elimination also concerns those which develop in the armpits of the leaves of the parent branch.
Here’s how die-hard tomato pinching enthusiasts do it. The frail branches are seized between thumb and forefinger then pinched with fingernail tips. Twigs of larger size require the use of a shears. But be careful, between each tomato plant, it is absolutely essential to disinfect this pruning tool in order to avoid any risk of transmission of a possible disease.
A pinch above 4th or 5th bouquet of flowers of the mother stem is also carried out so as to top it so that it does not grow too high, but also so that it does not produce a lot of tomatoes. We offer a chance to the few fruits that we plan to keep on the vine to benefit better and to reach a higher caliber.
Some gardeners also pinch the top part of young plants right after they are planted in order to compel them to produce a second branch. Topping promotes branching.
When you start gardening, you don’t know what advice to follow when opinions are divided on a subject such as pinching. You just have to remember that pinching your tomatoes is absolutely not mandatoryand the pinch is without much interest since it is not even proven that it allows you to harvest bigger tomatoes. In any case, we cannot include the pinching of tomatoes on the list of essential cultivation rules! On the other hand, it is fundamental to harvest a good quantity of delicious tomatoes from the vegetable garden, to reserve a place for them in the sun, to plant them in very fertile soil and to respect a sufficient distance between each foot in order to let them growbreathe and to prevent disease.