Monty Don shares ‘best way’ to remove side shoots from tomato plants – ‘may tear plant’

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Gardeners’ World lead host Monty Don has shared more monthly gardening advice on his blog. The gardening expert shares his advice at the beginning of the month which includes tips for plants as well as gardening jobs. In his latest blog post, Monty shared how to deadhead tulips, sow biennials and bring out citrus plants.

The 66-year-old also shared when to bring out tomato plants and how to remove side shoots from the plants.

While some experts advise gardeners to plant out tomatoes in April, Monty noted earlier in his blog that April had been “very dry and quite cold”.

He advised planting out tomatoes in a greenhouse in early May but to wait until the end of the month for outdoor ones.

He said: “It is time to plant out tomatoes in a greenhouse – although wait until the end of the month for outdoor ones.

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“This is because tomatoes hate too much temperature fluctuation and May nights can be chilly -especially if the days are warm.

“Plant them deeply, burying them right up to the bottom leaf as the buried section of stem will develop extra roots.”

Monty also said tomato plants form shoots between the leaves and the stem which are known as “side shoots”.

While these do produce fruit, he urged gardeners to remove them but only in the morning.

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He continued: “They [side shoots] grow with extra vigour and although they do bear trusses of fruit, they take energy from the plant and reduce the overall harvest as well as making a cordon plant straggly.

“So they should be removed as they appear.

“The best way to do this is in the morning when the plant is turgid, simply breaking them off with finger and thumb.

“However, in the evening they will be limper and may tear the plant so should be cut off with a knife.”

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Monty said gardeners are going into May with the ground being “parched” and “dry”.

While this may be easier conditions for Britons to tend to their gardens, this may not be the best conditions blossom, flowering bulbs and new leaves.

He added: “It is not something that I say often in this wet side of a wet country and in a garden that often floods, but we badly need rain.”

The gardening expert said May is a “generous” month where many plants begin to sprout with flowers.

On this week’s episode of Gardeners’ World Carol Klein will be celebrating blossom on show at Batsford Arboretum in the Cotswolds.

Meanwhile, Adam Frost and Arit Anderson will be looking at the show gardens at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

They will also be looking at this year’s must-have flowers and plants on display in the Floral Marquee.

Gardeners’ World airs on Friday at 8pm on BBC Two.

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