They say that lightly brushing your hands against tomato leaves stimulates a growth hormone in the plant encouraging radial (aka stockier) growth. I’m still searching for a study that supports this but I chose to believe it regardless, which is why I spend some time each morning lightly touching my young tomato seedlings. I’m sure the extra attention helps them grow healthier too. Plus it just smells good.
Washing your hands before touching the plants is advised, especially if you are a smoker or come into contact with cigarette smoke since it is possible to transfer the tobacco mosaic virus to tomatoes through touch. Some people are mildly allergic to tomato leaves so its probably a good idea to wash your hands after contact too. And that concludes all the hand wash advising I am going to deliver for the next year. Because advisories freak people out and I am more interested in encouraging confidence than inspiring fear.
My little plants are all coming along well. I’ve got about 10 seedlings transplanted to larger pots and more waiting to be repotted. They’re not going to go outside for another month yet so they have lots of growing to do in the meantime. It’s interesting to note how differently each variety grows from the next right from the get-go. ‘Black Pear’ and ‘Purple Calabash’ are the leaders in height with ‘Czech’s Bush’ still reigning supreme as the stockiest plant I have ever grown.