Tomatoes are basically vines, and to get the best results from your tomato plant, you want it to do two things: grow up and produce fruit. What you don’t want is for it to put all its energy into growing out. That’s why, every few days, you need to give your tomato plant the ‘once-over’ and pinch out it’s laterals. Laterals are the little side branches that grow between the main stem and the leaf branches. Left to their own devices, these laterals will form new vertical side stems, using up a lot of energy that could be put into fruit and main stem-growing instead.
But here’s the crunch – unless you know what you’re doing, you may end up either pinching out the tip of the main stem (which means the tomato plant will have to waste energy developing a new one) or (and this is so ghastly you almost don’t want to know about it) you might end up pinching off (gulp, I can barely say this without breaking into a sweat) a fruit truss – that’s a a branch that carries young flowers which tun into juicy tomatoes. There s nothing worse than discovering you’ve just killed off a bracket of potential tomatoes. Believe me. I know. I’ve done it!
But fear not, because, in the diagram below (illustrated by my obliging and talented husband!) you can clearly work out what is what so that you never make this horrible mistake. Happy lateral hunting!