Do I need to pick off the lower leaves of tomatoes?
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable crops, so they are very common in vegetable gardens. And what is a garden without a tomato bush ?! Indeed, in this case, he looks somehow ugly. Often, summer residents have a kind of competition for the largest fruit, the most delicious, and so on. In general, if you manage to grow tomatoes from year to year, getting high yields, skillfully avoiding traps in the form of late blight and other diseases and pests, then you are a real gardener. Do you cut off the lower leaves of tomatoes?
It cannot be said that tomatoes are a culture with complex agricultural technology and increased requirements for growing, but tomato bushes cannot be called very simpletons. Take, for example, the question of removing “extra” leaves: everything seems to be simple - take it, tear it off or cut it off, but in reality it turns out that you need to follow the rules and almost learn to do it. The debate over the need to remove leaf blades of tomatoes and the effectiveness of this "event" has not subsided so far. Let's figure out what, how and when to do so that the plants do not harm, but help, breaking off the leaves.
- Do I need to pick off the lower leaves of tomatoes?
- What tomato leaves to remove?
- Pros of Removing the Lower Tomato Leaves
- When to pick tomato leaves and how to do it right?
Do I need to pick off the lower leaves of tomatoes?
Let's start by clarifying the overall need for this procedure, is it really necessary for the plant, and you and I? Here, as often happens, there are two opinions - it is necessary or not necessary at all. But the fact that it’s better not to touch the tomatoes at all, beginners often say, they say, why climb into nature, the plant itself will decide how many and what leaves should be on it. So beginners often say that for the simple reason that they are banal afraid of harm, well - and of lack of knowledge, of course. Professionals of their business unanimously say that it is necessary to pick or cut leaves of tomatoes, and this will be useful to both the plant and us.
In favor of the fact that a number of leaves in tomatoes are still superfluous and they need to be removed, the fact is that usually the more leaves and shoots are on the plant, the more actively these same plants evaporate soil moisture and absorb nutrients just to feed them vegetative mass and only after that pay attention to the fruits. Consequently, often powerful tomato bushes, with an abundance of green mass, please the owners with a small harvest, and the fruits themselves are not always tasty.
But this is not all, for example, the lower leaves of tomatoes, due to their sometimes quite large size, significantly interfere with the normal movement and circulation of air at the base of plants, therefore, they banally inhibit the evaporation of moisture from the soil surface and adjacent leaf blades, which creates favorable environment for the development of fungal infection, including late blight.
In addition, such leaves of tomatoes, if they are not cut off, when irrigated or under the influence of raindrops, often bend to the ground and even touch it, which leads to their decay, the formation of foci of infection and the development of concomitant diseases. It is noticed that late blight of tomatoes starts from the lower leaves and slowly rises above the plant.
What tomato leaves to remove?
If the lower leaves are yellowed and spots appear on them, then they must be removed simply immediately. It is an ideal environment for the development of most tomato diseases. The yellowed lower leaves of a tomato, among other things, are often a kind of marker of improper care, that is, if they turn yellow, it means that you are doing something wrong. At the same time, the yellowed leaves can already be said to have died, so they must be removed immediately.
In addition to removing the lower leaves of the tomatoes, both healthy and yellowed, it is advisable to remove the leaf blades that begin to dry out: it does not matter where they are located - at the very bottom or a little higher and there are also leaves under them. Tomato leaves sometimes dry simply because of their age: since the plant no longer needs them, you need to help it remove them, otherwise the infection will reach them.
In addition, it is possible to make thinning of the middle of the tomato bush, according to the type of thinning cutting of bushes, but it is appropriate to remove leaves from the side of the bush that faces north. This will provide better ventilation of the tomato bush and reduce the risk of various fungal diseases and other infections. Zhiruyuschie shoots, ate, they grow from the bottom, can also be safely removed, they are of little use, and they pull water and nutrients very strongly.
Pros of Removing Tomato Bottom Leaves
So, hopefully, it has become a little clearer for what purpose we recommend removing the lower leaves of the tomato, but we did not tell what the advantages of this removal are, and they certainly are.
First plus - this is that after removal of the lower leaves, the plant becomes a little more open, air masses circulate freely at the base of the bushes, moisture normally evaporates from the soil surface and from leaf blades, the risk of tomato phytophthora, as well as other infections, sharply decreases (but does not completely disappear !).
Second plus - this is the fact that we remove tomato leaves that are at risk, because, as we mentioned above, they are the first to usually get sick, this is also in favor of minimizing the risk of late blight on your site.
Plus a third - we remove the excess parts of the vegetative mass of the tomato bush, therefore, slightly reduce the evaporation of moisture by the plants themselves (that is, its consumption from the soil, which is especially true for summer cottages) and reduce the consumption of substances to maintain the existence of these leaves, which leads to the fact that these the very substances will go to the formation of the fruit.
When to pick tomato leaves and how to do it right?
So, we firmly learned that you need to remove the lower leaves from the tomato bush, now let's figure out when this can be done and, importantly, how to do it right.
Firmly remember that in no case it is impossible to rush with the removal of tomato leaves: for example, if you remove them immediately after planting seedlings, you can only make it worse, the plants may well stop growing or slow down very much. You can remove the bottom leaves only when the seedlings grow and get stronger, for this it should take from seven to ten days. It is possible to understand that tomato seedlings have taken root by activating its growth processes.
Before proceeding with the removal of tomato leaves, inspect all plants, first of all, remove those lower leaves that, for some reason, began to dry out and turn yellow, there is a higher risk of infection, and then proceed to remove the lower leaves from healthy plants .
In the event that you still doubt the feasibility of removing the lower leaf blades of tomato, we advise you to carry out this procedure first with leaves located on the north side of the bush. The fact is that these leaflets, in addition to being at the bottom, are also located in the shade, so they practically do not participate in the processes of photosynthesis, and therefore are not needed. Removing them, you certainly will not harm the plant.
When removing tomato leaves, do not rush, observe a certain phasing, for example, removing a couple of lower leaves, do not forget about the plant, watch it. It happens that the removal of leaf blades from a tomato provokes it to bookmark new inflorescences, such, with good flowering plants before they appear, it is better to remove, since this is an additional and inappropriate load on the tomato bush. New ovaries can be left only if the flowering was very sluggish before the leaves were removed, inflorescences formed less than usual or than is typical for this particular tomato variety.
Try to remove the lower leaves of the tomato by pressing the leaf petiole at the base and yanking it up, that is, along the stem, and not across it, as if tearing it out of the nest. At the same time, try to maintain the stem of the tomato and do not pull the leaf very hard, because there is a risk of breaking off or breaking the stem. You can’t pull the leaflets down either. If you do, then you can tear off the skin of the stem as well, the skin will stretch downward behind the torn leaflet and you will get a wound into which any infection can get quite easily and very quickly.
It is advisable to remove the lower leaves of the tomato not in cloudy and cool weather, as for some reason many do it, but, on the contrary, on a sunny and fine day, but always in the morning (at 7-8 a.m., when the sun is already shining with might and main) when the plants are at maximum turgor. The fact is that on a sunny day, the wound remaining in the place of the former leaf will drag on much faster than on a cloudy day, and the risk of infection in the wound will be minimal.
When starting to remove the lower leaves from a tomato, do not be too zealous, the main rule here is to not harm. You can remove leaflets no more than twice a week at a time by removing or cutting two or three sheets, no more. Only such removal of leaf blades will not injure the plants too much, and they will survive this procedure without problems.
The basic rule when removing the lower leaves of a tomato, which must be firmly assimilated, is the following: if the fruit has not yet been tied in the brush, then it is advisable to remove no more than one lower leaf on the shoots on which the brush itself is placed, but if all Since the fruits in the brush are already tied, then below this brush you can break out absolutely all leaf blades, leaving literally a bunch of leaves only at the top. But only it is below the brush, the lower leaves of the tomato, and not the upper ones.
The first wave of leaf removal can be safely carried out after the entire ovary has formed, and the second wave can be carried out when the tomatoes are finally formed and begin to stain. Thus, we will direct the maximum amount of nutrients to the fruits, but at the same time as removing the leaf blades, it is important to moderate the amount of watering, otherwise excess moisture can cause cracking of the fruits. If it rains, then tomato irrigation should be abandoned altogether and more often loosen the soil at the base of the plant in order to increase evaporation and prevent moisture stagnation.
So, as we understood: removing the lower leaves of tomatoes is not only possible, but also necessary, so you can solve a lot of problems - provide access to food and moisture to the fruits, improve their taste and mass, increase productivity and even reduce the risk of mushroom infections to a minimum. The main thing at the same time is to do everything correctly and on time.