Side shoots are removed from cordon variety tomato plants to help channel energy into the fruit, rather than wasting it on foliage. It’s a job to tackle at least once a week - the sooner the side shoots are pinched out, the less energy the plant will have wasted.
As your tomato plant grows, long trusses of flowers will develop directly from the main stem. To make sure all the fruit has a chance to ripen, allow your plant to set about 4 or 5 trusses, then ‘stop’ the plant by removing the growing tip of the main stem.
If you’re growing a cordon variety, your plant will start to produce lots of side shoots once it has been ‘stopped’. Pinch out these side shoots or they will take energy away from the fruit. And keep tying the plant to a cane as it grows, or it might fall over or get damaged in the wind.
If you’re growing a bush variety, don’t remove the side shoots or you will reduce the plant’s crop.
When your tomatoes are ripe, gently pick them by pulling the fruit away from the stem. Be careful not to knock any of the other tomatoes off. By the middle of summer you should have beautiful, healthy, ripe tomatoes, bursting with flavour and ready to eat.
For more information on growing this popular fruit, visit our tomato hub page for a wealth of sowing, growing and care tips.