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In a recent TV programme, Monty Don asserted that tomato plants should have some leaves removed, to allow sunshine to reach the fruits, in order to hasten their ripening. I have heard that advice elsewhere, too, but I've also been told that what actually makes the tomatoes ripen is sunlight falling on the leaves, which then manufacture what the fruits need, by photosynthesis. So, far from being removed, the leaves should stay right where they are, because they are doing vital work for the plant. To me, that makes more sense. I'd be very interested to hear what others think about it.
As it happens, my tomato plants (all outside and in two varieties - Gardener's Delight and Sweet Aperitif) are looking very vigorous, with plenty of fruit forming and developing, though not ripening just yet (which is more than can be said for my runner beans - Scarlet Emperor - which have had plenty of flowers, but few setting to produce beans).



Sunshine won’t do it. Leave everything as is and let it ripen on its own. Or once they start to ripen, pick and place them in a brown paper bag with a banana in it. The ethylene gas from the ripening banana will hasten the ripening process.

26 Jul, 2022


I am no expert but have been growing tomatoes for many years and the only times when I would remove leaves would be the lower ones when they start to die and at the end of the season when the remaing fruits have grown to a useable size and you want them to ripen.

26 Jul, 2022


I don't remove them as they are providing lots of sugars and as I often have more than 5 trusses on they go to provide energy for late season toms.

Commercially they are removed to reduce disease and to make harvesting easier. Hubby, as a student, many yrs ago, used to work in a tomato house and his job was to remove the leaves.

Ripening is due to ethylene gas that the developing fruits produce themselves and once one has ripened, its gas stimulates neighbouring ones etc.
green ones at the end of the season can be 'forced' with the banana, or any ripe fruit, method as mentioned by Loosetrife.

26 Jul, 2022


Thanks very much everyone. You've confirmed my own thoughts on the matter. Whisper it, Monty Don has been known before (perish the thought!) to have provided what might be best described as inaccurate advice.

Now, as to my runner beans, I've just checked and counted four developing plus one that just might do so later. Not much of a crop, you might say, from a dozen or so plants. There were bees around them early on, but recently they seem to have decided to go elsewhere. There were plenty of flowers, but most of them have simply finished blooming before dropping off. I don't remember that happening before, over many years. No sign of disease and they are near the tomatoes, as they have usually been, which are doing really well, so you might think the bees, when they were around, might have visited both.

Any thoughts on that topic also would be much appreeciated.

26 Jul, 2022


Re your runner beans not setting, buried in my mind is something about temperature & humidity with differing and opposite requirements for runners & French beans which is why ever since I read it I have always grown both, so whatever the weather one type of bean will like it

This year I think is a French bean year, my White Emergo have flowers but no beans but the purple climbing French has set beans

I'm sure a quick internet search will drag up some facts about differing pollination requirements

27 Jul, 2022


its been very dry, finely mist the next crop of flowers that the plants will produce.

27 Jul, 2022


I don't trust Monty's advice either, ever since I saw him plant a clematis and use really thick, chunky wood to make a wigwam for it to climb up, far too thick for a large flowered clematis to use as a support... I have had to remove some foliage from my tomatoes this year, for some reason they've grown like triffids, so much so I couldn't see out the window of the balcony nor easily get past them to water other plants... No idea why they are so large this year, one of them is taller than me with loads of trusses too... Blackfly's been a real problem with them this year for the first time ever.

27 Jul, 2022


Hi Bamboo. Nice to see you.
We don't remove leaves either except for damaged ones of course.

27 Jul, 2022


There is a line of thought which recommends misting beans with water with some lime dissolved in it when in flower. You would spray in the evening when the temperature begins to drop when sun sets. Adding lime to the soil when planting is another possibility. It's still time to plant another set of beans along side the original ones so not is all lost.

28 Jul, 2022


Hi everyone. Many thanks for the responses to my original questions.

Bamboo: interestingly, my tomato plants also have grown 'like triffids' as you put it, and are cropping well. I've finally taken just a few bottom leaves off, mostly to help me see where the bases are when watering and feeding. No blackfly problems for me though. I was told many years ago that French marigolds grown near beans will deter blackfly, so since then I've always grown some, and they have proved most successful, year after year. Because my tomatoes are on the same patch of ground as the runners, they evidently do the job for them, too. I also have a row of beautiful flowers to enjoy, a great bonus! (Other blackfly-deterring plants are available!)

I don't have enough space for any more beans this year and those I already have are really past their best as regards flowers, so it seems this year I must just accept things as they are, and try to remember the advice given above for next year.

I have another question, about cucumbers, but that must be for another post. This one's already straying off-topic a bit.

Thanks again, everyone.

28 Jul, 2022

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