Pruning & Tying Tomatoes

You know how it never rains but it pours? I keep thinking we should be able to space out our projects a little more in the garden, but usually, once we are on a roll, we just keep going. We did lots of things in the garden today, so I’ll be posting about that all week.

One thing new we did this week was pruning the suckers off the heirloom tomatoes in the trial. The plants have really grown a lot, and since they are spaced a little closer together, we are taking off all the suckers below the first flower cluster.

Here’s one of the plants before its suckers get pruned off. It is definitely full and bushy, with some large suckers. Ideally, you would prune off the suckers before they get this large, because it is less shocking to the plants.

Here you can see the suckers a little better. They are the very large, upright shoots growing off the main stem, rather than the mostly horizontal leaves.

This is the same plant after the pruning is finished. You can see we accidentally broke one of the regular leaves in the process – one good reason to prune earlier when the suckers are smaller.

We did find flowers or buds on almost all of the heirloom tomatoes today, so I’m glad we chose the shorter day varieties!

Why Prune?

If you are wondering why we pruned the heirlooms, there are a few good reason.

1. They are planted only 24″ apart, which is close for indeterminate plants. Pruning will help improve the airflow for these plants, reducing some of the disease pressure.

2. The heirlooms are very vigorous growers, so the pruning will help keep them under control a bit more.

3. Yes, the suckers would produce some tomatoes, but by removing the suckers, the plant will put more energy into the other fruit, so the other tomatoes might be a little larger. The total yield for each plant will be virtually the same.

We also put the third level of twine on the heirlooms. They had grown a lot and were definitely ready for it.

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on June 7, 2011, in Working in the Garden and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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