Stripping For a Reason

stripped tomato mark 2-816x459Have you tried it? Stripping back the leaves of your hot house veges. I have spent a few hours this week doing exactly this in our hot house at work and I am already amazed at how much better everything is looking. I have customers who have grown tomatoes for years and I am not shy to ask their advice and opinion on the subject of growing the best tomatoes, even though I have been growing my own tomatoes for some years. The single most scary (but valuable) piece of advise I have ever been given is to stripe some of the leaves off my plants. Each year I get a little bit more brave (at the art of stripping). There are a few good reasons to follow this practice
  1. To create more air flow around the base of the plant, as the temperature rises and the humidity increases , moisture will settle and form mildew
  2. Hot House bugs love nothing more than a warm humid place to breed, and where better to lay their eggs than down low and out of sight. By the time they have hatched you have a whole lot more than double trouble.
  3. The more green leaf you leave on the tomato the more flowers it will produce however given the length of our growing season more flowers doesn't mean more fruit. So its important to ensure that the plant has an opportunity to put enough energy into the developing fruit.
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There are a few tricks to this stripping process that are important to follow.
  • Only take the branches off below the first truss of fruit.
  • Make sure your cut is clean
  • Never take any more than 1/3 of the greenery from any plant.
This week I have applied the same principal to my climber beans, cucumber and zucchini. I have been inspecting the underside of the old leaves as I go and it has been a timely reminder just why I'm stripping the extra branches. I have put all the green waste in the worm farm instead of on the pile to be composted, as it will be a while before I get back to the composting and I just know those eggs will hatch and continue to breed. At least in the worm farm I know they will die from not enough fresh food. Phew!!! After attacking all the plants I set about giving everything a good old clean up in the hothouse. All my hot house plants are growing in Autopots, so the clean up was super easy. I removed all the trays and valves gave them a good clean, cleaned out all the tanks and replenished with fresh water and nutrient. stripped cucumber-816x459 In the cool of the day I have also sprayed with a natural bug spray 'Beat-a Bug' this is a fantastic product that is safe to use on all plants. beat a bug-333x423

I can now rest easy (over the Christmas break) knowing that I have minimised the bugs, the plants all have fresh air flowing about their bases, food and water all topped up and flowing perfectly. A good Job Done!