Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Firstly, if this has already been covered I apologies. Doing a quick search I could not find any articles that covered this off. (I did not check all of the hundreds of post :-) )

Say you have grown some tomatoes, and one particular one is more vigorous than the others or has larger fruit or is more prolific; well you can propagate it from cuttings.

Firstly on your selected tomato plant, select a good looking 'lateral' stem (these are also fruit bearing, as opposed to just a leaf).

Cut is off close to the main stem (leaving the leaf as we do not need it).

Trim most of the leaves to prevent water loss (I left an extra leaf on there as it is winter and there is less sun and more water, in dry summer conditions I would have removed an extra leaf). I left my secateurs there for scale, however I usually use about a 30 cm lateral and I trim the bottom 20 cm.

I then use a (bamboo) stick (or anything else you have handy) to make a hole in the soil (I like to use round sticks as opposed to stakes as there will be better contact between the soil and the cutting). I make sure it is deep enough for the cutting and then I insert the cutting (do not force it in as it can break the cutting). Using the same stick, I push down next to the cutting to make sure there is good contact between soil and cutting. I then water it in.

These are 2-3 week old cuttings (in the 4 corners of the square). As you can see you are saving a lot of growing time as compared to growing from seeds. I will post a more recent picture as these 4 have really taken off as has the example cutting above.

I suspect you can keep this going from generation to generation, I think I got up to generation 3 when I first tried.

(I have not looked into what other plants this can be done with, however I suspect they will have to be part of the nightshade family)


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Comment by Lissa on June 17, 2012 at 6:50

Great idea Robert, I'll give it a go. Works with eggplant also.

Comment by Robert Tolmaci on June 8, 2012 at 20:30

Another option is to prune back the tomato to one new lateral close to the ground as in the case above.

Make sure you pick a good undamaged lateral as if you don't it'll end up like the plant on the left :-(.

I can get a bit more growth out of the plant.

In this case the plant was too long and unmanageable, as I am now weaving these tomatoes between the stakes as they just keep growing. See below.

Comment by Robert Tolmaci on June 8, 2012 at 12:27

I water then in initially. Then it just depends on the weather. I do not want it to dry out however I make sure it is not waterlogged.

Because I use fairly long cuttings, 25cm or so, it does not dry out as fast that deep.

Comment by Scarlett on June 5, 2012 at 22:42

excellent. how often do you water them when you are waiting for them to take?

Comment by Robert Tolmaci on June 5, 2012 at 12:45

Hello Scarlett.

The tomato plants in the two closest corners are the source plants for my cutting in the above example.

These themselves were grown from cuttings. You will note they are thriving, which is due to the soil, as I have been working on if for one season and have dug in mushroom compost and the composting hay that the mushrooms compost came with (you will note near top right corner I also have mushrooms growing that I  have been harvesting).

However only the corner ones survived, the cutting in the middle did not fare so well(bamboo stick indicates the empty spot).

I have included another photo below showing that the two tomato cuttings on the right and far left successfully grew from cuttings from the self seeded tomato on the left (you will have to look closely).

So in my back yard I have successfully got tomatoes to grow in three different soil types.

The cuttings will grow in any soil that a tomato will grow in.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 4, 2012 at 23:15

T'riffic - great idea, worth a whirl!

Comment by Scarlett on June 4, 2012 at 20:48

your soil looks very alive - lots of fungal activity and organic matter by the look of it. you need good soil for this to work well I think.

Comment by Robert Tolmaci on June 4, 2012 at 20:10

HI Elaine, I have never used any propagating powder.

I have taken laterals from various part of the growth period, as long as they were a decent size, at leas 20 cm.

I have had about 80% success rate.

I have always stuck it straight into the ground.

My dad showed this to me back in the 80's as that's what they used to do in the old country.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 4, 2012 at 13:20

Interesting that you have had success with cuttings Robert! Peter Cundall always reckoned it could be done. Do you use any rooting hormone or honey or any secret recipe to hasten root formation? Or do you just put them into the ground and they grow roots quickly?

Do you use early laterals or ones from much later in the plant's life cycle? Tomatoes are usually annuals and have a finite life ... do the cuttings live for the usual Tomato-length lifetime?

I have tried putting the cuttings into water and that does not work. But then propagation is not one of my skills.

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