Paradise Garden

Gardening Articles written by Experts


Deleafing Tomatoes

by Mark Rowland

Background

Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding grow-your-own crops, enabling the domestic gardener to concentrate of flavour and quality rather than yield and shelf life. There are many factors which contribute to the success of the venture, but one that is often misunderstood is deleafing.

Deleafing

Deleafing is a simple enough operation, involving cutting off some of the older leaves from the lower part of the stem. This is performed regularly on commercial long season tomato crops, resulting in the plants with a considerable length of bare stem.

Reasons for Deleafing

Some gardening writers mistakenly assume that this is to expose the fruit to sunlight to promote ripening. In fact, tomatoes will ripen in the dark and the real purpose of deleafing is to speed up harvesting. Trial have shown that deleafing can actually reduce the total crop produced by each plant, so it should only be carried out when there is a significant benefit from doing so. Commercial growers know exactly how much leaf is needed for the crop to perform to its maximum potential; domestic tomato crops are managed on a rather less scientific basis and deleafing should be kept to a minimum.

Valid reasons for deleafing a domestic crop would be to remove diseased foliage, or to remove excess foliage to improve air flow round a crop that has been grown too close together. Ease of crop management is also a factor to consider, but speed of harvest is unlikely to be as critical to an amateur as it is in a highly competitive commercial environment.


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