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Tomato grafts

Well the easy bit is that it’s probably the easiest graft. All you need is a sharp blade, by preference I’d go for a Stanley knife blade but do watch the edges, a wrapping of insulation tape does ease the potential problems, as I know from experience.

The cut needs to be diagonal to give some support, (45 degrees) but most importantly you need to have matching cuts and matching stem thicknesses. So if you cut the scion off at 40 degrees you need to make sure that the cut on the root stock allows a neat join and is therefore cut at the same angle. It goes without saying that it’s a job for young plants and their main stem below the top growth.

The secret of success lies in the join and keeping the top half (scion) attached to the bottom half (root stock). For this job there is a grafting clip which looks like a small clear sprung clothes peg which you force open with the ends and carefully place round the union to keep the contact in place and allow for healing.

These grafting clips can be sourced off the internet, and it’s either a slow boat from China for a lifetime’s supply or someone who breaks bulk, but supplies in days. There is an alternative and yes it’s not as easy to use or probably as good, and that involves cutting up some clear plastic tube, the thin type used in siphoning when making wine.

The first cut should be down the tube to open it length ways, you now need to trim again length ways to achieve the correct diameter for the tomato plants when re-closed. The tricky bit is now using some strips of clear tape to bind this round the union to give some support, not easy, and yes it will have to come off when the graft takes.

Perhaps the most important element to success is the care that the plants receive after the graft. If you have taken side shoot cuttings you will know that it’s a case of shade, moisture, warmth but not too much to stress the plants and lots of tlc.

As a final thought don’t throw away the unused top growth from the rootstock, why not go for a double graft, or just use it like a cutting and pot it up. (See previous blog “tomatoes another twist”).

For those in need of a small challenge for the summer why don’t you see how many side shoot cuttings you can get to fruit before the end of the season from one plant.

For more tips from Robert, take a look at his page

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