How To Cordon Tomatoes

Tomatoes in the Greenhouse

There are many different techniques for growing tomatoes and every experienced gardener will have plenty of advice to give on the ones that have worked for them. Some will have great success with bush tomatoes while others prefer to cordon.

If you are short on space and want to maximise your yield then there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that cordon tomatoes are your best bet. Cordon tomatoes are simply tomatoes that are trained to grow upwards and put all their attention into flowering and fruiting rather than throwing out side shoots.

To grow your tomatoes in this fashion you will need some sturdy canes or a system of wires strung from, for example, the crop bars on a polytunnel. One tomato plant is grown up each cane or wire, carefully tied in loosely as it grows. Side shoots are nipped off and the plant allowed to grow one main stem until it has produced four flower trusses, at which point the growing tip is pinched out.

A Rooted Tomato CuttingIn order to make the most of your tomato plants and wring all value out of them, you should note that you can root the side shoots that you have removed to make new plants. To do this, you can simply place the side shoot in water and wait a few weeks for the roots to form before planting in potting soil or compost. This is an easy way to increase your stock of plants.

You can make sure that your cordon tomatoes remain healthy by making sure they establish strong root systems earlier in their lives and by planting them out only when the weather has warmed enough. Getting your timing right is crucial to getting a good crop of tomatoes later in the year. One tomatoes are growing, make sure that you feed them well, with a good potassium rich fertiliser that will help fruits to form. A fertiliser too high in nitrogen will encourage plenty of leafy growth with few flowers or fruits. Comfrey is a good choice, with its nutritional balance and if your soil is not too acidic, you could use a small amount of wood ash from a wood burning fire or stove sprinkled around your plants.

Cordon tomatoes look more orderly than ones allowed to bush naturally. They make management and harvest much easier and allow you make the most of your space.