Thursday, March 06, 2008

Grafted tomatoes

One of the nicer things about being a garden writer is that you get the occasional freebie. The latest has given me an interesting experiment to do - the nice people at Suttons have sent me one of their grafted tomato plants, along with a non-grafted one, to let me see what the difference is.

I first came across grafted tomatoes at their stand at the Garden Press Event in London earlier this year. I have to confess I am very sceptical: it strikes me as really a very fiddly way to produce tomatoes, which seem to do perfectly well on their own stems most of the time, so why you would want to go to the silliness of cutting the top off one tomato plant and grafting it onto a more vigorous rootstock is beyond me.

Well, they say it produces plants that are twice as vigorous and produce twice as many tomatoes, that's why. Oh, and it makes them a bit more money if they can convince everyone else of that - since by definition, you can only buy grafted tomatoes as ready-made plants.

Time will tell. I have to say I'm a little suspicious that the two plants I was sent were already (as you can see from the pictures) rather different in size: but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief there, as of course plants do catch up with each other quite quickly this time of year. What I have found is that I felt I had to give the grafted plant (on the right in the picture) extra support, in the shape of a little stick up the side, as the stem was long and rather lax, so I feared that it would break at the graft. I may be entirely over-cautious here, though, and it might have managed fine without it.

I'll be reporting back in due course!

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