Tricks of the trade…encourage more fruit

This is the time of year that tomatoes, squashes, courgettes, cucumbers and beans truly spring into action. They grow like crazy. But you don’t want all that growth to produce bigger, leafier plants. Nope, you want the energy to be concentrated into producing food. To do this you’ll need to pinch out a few growing tips here and snip off a few leaves there.

Tomatoes: Pinch out side shoots (the shoots that grow between the vertical stem and the horizontal branches) as they appear. Pinch off the growing tip once the plant reaches the top of the support or is nearing the roof of the greenhouse. Once the plant is flowering well, snip off a few of the leafy branches to let light through to the fruits as well.

Squashes and Pumpkins: Cut off the trailing vines once they reach about 60cm to keep the plant a little more compact. This will also help the plant to concentrate energy into growing and ripening the existing fruits. If you want to grow large pumpkins, cut the vines back to lead just 2-3 fruits per plant. Once they start to ripen cut off some of the leaves to allow sunlight through to the fruits.

Cucumbers: When the plants have developed seven leaves you can pinch out the growing tip. Leave the sideshoots to crawl over the ground and develop fruits. Pinch out the tips of any flowerless sideshoots once they’ve developed seven leaves.

Courgettes: Pinch out the main shoots once they reach about 60cm to keep the plant neat and to focus energy on flower and fruit formation. Cut off any mildew ridden or yellowing leaves. Don’t forget to harvest your courgettes regularly!

Beans: Pinch out the growing tips once they reach the top of their support.

Aubergines: Pinch out side shoots and tips once you’ve got 5 or 6 fruits on the plant. This’ll concentrate the energy on ripening the fruits for you leaving the plant less likely to produce lots of unripened fruit at the end of the summer.


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