Grafted tomatoes aren’t a new idea but their modern reintroduction has revolutionised tomato growing for amateur gardeners.
Over the few last years Suttons UK Nursery team has been busy developing their grafting technique to ensure these exceptional plants continue to be the most vigorous and tough tomato plants available. They provide you with plenty of tasty vegetables throughout the summer.
With this in mind, Suttons Seeds has developed an improved grafting technique that is now used on all tomato plants in order to produce even more fruit, earlier and over a longer period!
These incredible tomatoes are more disease resistant, produce 3 -4 times the fruit of seed raised varieties, produce fruit earlier and longer than seed raised varieties. Most of them grow outside well also which most of the seed raised varieties don’t in the Sheffield region.
If you have never bought a grafted tomato, buy one this year and compare the results. Oh, almost forgot – these tomato varieties have amazing flavours too.
How are plants grafted?
Two plants are grown simultaneously; a tasty fruiting variety and a super-strong rootstock. The tops of the fruiting variety and the super-strong rootstock are carefully and skilfully removed by hand using a small blade to slice at an angle across each stem. The rootstock bottom and the top of the fruiting plant are then grafted together using a special clip which drops off naturally as the plant grows.
Where are plants grafted?
The new grafting position is now taken above the first true leaf formed above the ‘seedling’ leaves cotyledons). Please note: This process is currently only being used on tomato plants.
Why graft plants above the first true leaf?
Grafting the plant above the first true leaf ‘fools’ the young plant into thinking it’s older than it really is. The plant therefore produces its fruit much earlier and much lower down the stem to give you an even greater yield!
Once you arrive home with your new plant it is important that you give it time to adjust to its new environment.
Check the compost is moist and if required leave the plant to soak in approx. 5mm water for 5-10 minutes or until the top of the compost is damp. Stand the plant in a warm, light, airy place such as a windowsill or conservatory and allow to grow, ensuring that the compost is kept moist.
Potting on and planting out
First of all Tomatoes are tropical plants, and if you hadn’t noticed I can assure you the British Isles does have a tropical climate. This means you can’t have thriving tomato plants in the UK without high enough temperatures. It’s not only frost that’s a problem, temperatures lower than 8C will damage and stunt you tomato plants.
This means keeping plants warm, inside your home on a windowsill, in a heated conservatory, or a heated greenhouse until the middle of May.
As the plant grows and develops it will need transferring into a larger pot (as per the label) to ensure the roots have plenty of room to grow. When planting in its new pot or outdoors, ensure that the point at which the graft was made (where there is a ‘bump’ on the stem) is above the compost/soil as otherwise the variety will root itself, spoiling the advantage of growing on a super-strong rootstock.
Once your plant reaches around 40cm (16″) in height, or shows its first yellow flowers, you can transfer it to its final growing place; a greenhouse or a nice sunny position either in a pot on your patio or a space directly in your garden. Be careful to only leave your plant outside once any danger of frost has passed. Side-shooting your grafted tomatoes Around May /June time you will see small shoots growing from the ‘V’ space between the main stem and the leaf branches. These are called side shoots and will need removing (they do not bare fruit) to ensure the plant dedicates its growth and nutrients to what will be the fruiting trusses. To remove these, simply take hold of one between your thumb and forefinger at the bottom of the shoot and ‘pinch’ it at right angles to the leaf to remove it from the plant.
Training or supporting
Once your grafted plant starts to flower you will need to support it. There are two ways of doing this; by using either a 1.5m (5′) cane to support your plant, or string/twine to train your plant. When using canes, simply place your cane into the soil as close to the main stem as possible. Using a small piece of twine, loop it around the cane, cross over itself and then loop around the stem to form a figure of 8 and tie off. Do this at regular intervals above the fruiting branches. However, the most effective way (and favoured by Suttons Seeds) is to train your plants upward using vertical twine and wrapping the string clockwise around the plant as it grows.
Once your plant has a good crop of tomatoes growing later in the season, they need to be given the chance to mature into large, juicy fruits. To do this, simply remove the growing tip or tips (if growing doubles or duos) from the top of the plant. This directs all the nutrients and final growing vigour produced by the plant into the ripening fruits. With Suttons new grafting technique you will achieve at least 1 extra fruiting truss meaning you can expect to achieve approximately 6-8 trusses of tomatoes from one single grafted plant and 5-6 trusses per stem on doubles and duos! Please note: The Lizzano grafted plant is a ‘bush-type’ plant and requires no pinching, pruning or supporting. Simply let it grow and grow!
Suttons Grafted Plants, by their nature, are more vigorous than standard plants and as such will require more feeding. We recommend that you feed your grafted plants from when the first flower buds appear with a fertiliser that contains high potash levels. You may have to feed your plants twice a week when the plants are fruiting well. Water is also an essential element to the success of your plants.
A 9 litre (2 gallon) watering can full of water/feed for each plant once the sun has gone down (if the compost or soil is drying) will ensure you have large juicy fruits that will taste delicious from early summer and into the autumn!
When your fruits are an even orange-red (or orange in the case of Orangino) in colour but still firm they are ready to harvest. Once they start to ripen, check your plant every couple of days to ensure you don’t miss any delicious fruits. Use your thumb and finger to snap the fruit stem at the swollen area just above the fruit. Leaving the green stalk on the fruit will prolong the fruits life. For the best flavour, tomatoes should be stored at room temperature; however they can also be stored in the refrigerator.
NEW TOMATO BLIGHT RESISTANCE WITH TOMATO CRIMSON CRUSH
GRAFTED AND TOMATO BLIGHT RESISTANT – the pictures speak for themselves: