In the middle lane, tomatoes cannot be grown without pinching. The tomato develops many side shoots (stepchildren) from the leaf axils located on the main stem. If they are not removed, they will develop powerfully, and the plant will turn into a multi-stemmed bush with many flowers.

But all its forces will be directed not so much to the formation of fruits, as to the formation of green mass. Tied fruits will not have time to ripen. When you start pinching, you need to know what type this variety belongs to.

  • Determinate tomatoes themselves stop growing, they branch weakly, most often undersized. They are usually grown in a single stem. If all the stepchildren are immediately removed from such a plant, it will stop growing, and the yield will be low. Try to do it differently: leave a shoot (stepchild) in the axil of a leaf located under one of the upper inflorescences. Then the growth will continue. This stepson can be removed, and to replace it, closer to the top, leave a new one, and so on. During hot summers, determinant tomatoes can be grown in two or three stems.
  • Standard tomatoes – a kind of determiner – do not generally make son-in-law.
  • Indeterminate varieties and the hybrids continue to grow as long as the conditions are right, forming stepchildren in the axils of all the leaves. You have to “tame” them all summer, they form a single stem. If you want to start with two stems, leave a side shoot under the first flower brush.

General rules for pinching tomatoes:

  • begin to form plants when they have become stronger and have grown intensively;
  • burst stepchildren with a length of 5-7 cm, with your hands, and not with a knife, leave a small stump;
  • choose for those morning hours.

Here are some advantages of these tomatoes over undersizing (determinant):

  • Tall varieties are much more productive.
  • As a rule, they are less affected by phytophthora, subject to good agricultural practices.
  • A prolonged fruiting period from July to autumn frosts, while undersized tomatoes ripen almost simultaneously, which is not very convenient for fresh consumption.
  • It’s easier to be a son-in-law. Medium-sized (semi-determinant), for example, do it, and you still need a backup stepson.
  • It is much more convenient to work with bushes and harvest standing than in the laying of a summer resident.

In addition, I met the most interesting varieties among the tall ones.

Why, despite the above advantages, are there so few lovers of tall tomato varieties among us? The reason, in my opinion, is banal: lack of necessary knowledge and, therefore, an elementary fear of not facing the giants. I understand grandmothers. They have a problem with high supports – “pokes”. What stops men? After all, the main thing in any work is the result. And the result is incomparable.

So, back to the stepchildren. I want to emphasize once again that we are talking about pinching indeterminate (tall) varieties. Pasynkovanie is the removal (bursting) of unnecessary stepchildren.

What are stepchildren? The stepchildren are all secondary shoots. They grow from the leaf axils. In order not to confuse the stepchildren with the leaves, carefully look at the bush. Stepchildren do not grow on a bare stem.

First, a leaf grows, then only from the axil of the leaf (between the leaf and the main stem) a shoot appears – a constantly growing stepson. New leaves and “their own” stepchildren of the 2nd order appear there. The bush begins to branch.

Many people ask me, “Is it necessary to have a stepson?” My answer is categorical: “Yes”! I came across the fact that some gardeners regret reducing the number of stems, naively hoping to get more yield from more mass. I will say briefly. If your goal is to arrange the site, then do not step-son, increase the mass.

If harvest is important to you, then grow fruit, not green mass. The rule here is general for anything growing in the garden. From a unit of surface, one can collect a harvest determined in mass. Here it is not the number of shoots and flowers that is decisive, but nutrition and illumination.

That is why you should not thicken the landings in any way. A plant can fully synthesize proteins only with full illumination. And what about the lighting when thickened? Another secret.

The total fruit mass of a shrub increases little with increasing number of fruits. That is, we can get a lot of small tomatoes, or less, but large tomatoes. The overall yield will not change much. To choose!

There is another nuance. With a large number of fruits on the bush (without pinching), their ripening is sharply delayed. That’s why many of us never wait for a ripe harvest.

how to pinch tomatoes

And last but most important. In a thickened bush, the most favorable conditions are created for the most pernicious disease of nightshade – late blight. The bush must necessarily and very well ventilated. Otherwise, no treatment will save your harvest. Now try to answer the question yourself: “To the son-in-law or not?”

What to take out and what to leave in the bush? First we need to decide how many stems we will drive into our bushes. It is advisable to keep tomatoes tall in one, two, three (but not more) stems. The more stems, the higher the yield per bush (but not per unit area) and the later our tomatoes will ripen.

The distance between the bushes, at the same time, is the greatest. I prefer to keep the bushes in a stem. At the same time, I break all stepchildren and twins (sometimes rod forks). I plant bushes according to the scheme proposed by Jacob Mitlider with a distance between the bushes of 17.5 cm, and between the rows of 135 cm.

I consider this to be the most effective solution. T-shaped metal supports, height 2 m. On top, a thread is stretched horizontally in two rows, to which I freely attach pieces of strong twine for each rod.

As the sprouts grow, once a week I wrap them counterclockwise around the twine. It is very convenient and reliable. The bushes are well ventilated and lighted. You can also use wooden stakes, the so-called “poke”.

When forming shrubs in two stems, the main shoot and the stepchild remain, growing under the first flower brush. It’s usually the strongest. Everything else – above and below regularly, about once a week, breaks out.

With a three-stem culture, a stepchild is left under the first flower brush, and a more powerful one, located under the first. A tomato’s stepsons are precisely popped, not picked or torn. At the same time, stumps 1-2 cm long remain (see photo above). Accounts. That it slows down the appearance of a new son-in-law in this place.

There is a saying in literature that if the son-in-law is too tall, then it is too late for the son-in-law. Indeed, the plant has spent energy and nutrition there. But he will continue to spend them, and the son-in-law, meanwhile, will continue to grow and will soon begin to bring the troubles described above. Therefore, I choose the lesser of two evils and ruthlessly weed out overgrown stepchildren.

As you can see, there are no difficulties in the work. The difficulty lies in overcoming the barrier that is in our minds. I also met those who are too lazy for son-in-law tomatoes.

But at the same time, they are not too lazy to grow or buy seedlings every year, prepare a garden bed, plant a huge amount of tomatoes, tie up incredibly overgrown bushes, spray them with fungicides after every rain and every year … do not wait for a full-fledged harvest, arguing that tomatoes are “not grown” in Belarus. For some reason, they forget that the neighbor sells his surplus harvest annually in the market.