There are some people who would tell you that if you have space to grow only one fruit or vegetable, then tomatoes are the way to go. There’s something about picking a perfectly ripe tomato, warmed from a day in the sun, and eating it straight from the plant. The flavour, the scent of the plant, the burst of sweet juice as you bite through the warm skin – a plastic-wrapped supermarket tomato just doesn’t compare to your own, homegrown fruit.
Every year I start the growing season by sowing way more tomato seeds than there will be space for… it’s almost become a tradition. Spring hasn’t really arrived until every horizontal surface that gets enough light is covered by seed trays filled to overflowing with small black pots of tomato seedlings.
Always trying to get the best harvest from this excess of plants, I’ve tried different methods for growing them. But there’s one (at least) left to try… the single truss method. Have you heard of this way to grow tomatoes? I hadn’t, until I sat in on a talk by James Wong at The Edible Garden Show last weekend. The amount of enthusiasm and information crammed into just a short talk would have even the most reluctant of gardeners leaving the show with a bag full of tomato plants to grow at home. Knowing that I had trays full of seedlings back at home kept me from buying any more, but I did come straight back to look up this new idea.
Most of the information I’ve found on the internet on single truss production talks about using this method for growing tomatoes using hydroponics. Now, I’m not sure that I’m ready to dive into this whole new world of growing, but a more conventional, soil-based cultivation will be worth a try. The idea is to pinch out the growing tips of the plants once the first truss has set fruit and there are two or three leaves above it. Although there will be fewer tomatoes, the research suggests that these will be bigger and sweeter. And the fewer tomatoes per plant is offset by the fact that more plants can be crammed into the same area.
If nothing else, it will be an interesting project for this summer. I’m planning to grow at least one variety using both the single truss and a more conventional method, and then compare the results… the experiment might not meet with approval from your average statistician, but will do for a home gardener who likes to try new things. Do you have plans for growing anything new this year, or will you be trying new ways of growing old favourites?