Strong growth and plentiful flowers can be misleading. It is rare for us
even in the best of summers to have the long spells of sunshine necessary to
ripen more than four trusses of fruit. So "stop" the plants by pinching out
the main growing shoot. Nip it off just above the fourth truss. Even if four
trusses have not set, the stopping should be done by the third week of the
month. There is nothing to be gained by leaving the plants to grow on.
Keep moisture at the roots. Allowing the soil to dry
out and then trying to correct matters by soaking, only leads to split
fruit. If you have the material, apply a generous mulch (see page 4) and do
not let the soil surface cake hard. Keep feeding the plants, but do not
overdo it; and especially at this stage avoid too much nitrogen—sulphate of
ammonia or nitrate of soda—which will only promote rank growth and fruit
that lacks flavour.
It also makes the plants less resistant to disease. Let the sun get at the
fruit. This does not mean recklessly cutting out every leaf that is in the
way. Remember that the leaves of plants play an important part in their
nutrition. Remove any dead or withered leaves from the base, of course, and
then carefully thin out, here and there, to uncover developing trusses. Keep
a sharp lookout for any side shoots that you may have missed. Watch out also
for blight (see June Guide)
and give another spraying or dusting as a precaution.
Now is the time when the quality of plants tells. If
yours are not all they should be, make a resolution to start with better
stock next year. There are still too many over-forced weakly plants bought
by the unwary.