So, it’s that time in my garden for tending to the tomatoes. In case you’re wondering, the term “green thumb” is especially true with tomatoes. You really do get a green thumb (or at least nails) when pruning tomatoes from the chlorophyll in the stalks and leaves. You also might get green all over your clothes, so don’t go pruning in your Sunday best 😉
When tomatoes have grown to about 2 feet tall, they need to be staked. I grow heirloom tomatoes. Most modern day tomatoes are determinant. Meaning, they grow on a central stalk. If they are heirloom varieties, they most likely are indeterminant. Meaning, they grow like a shrub unless pruned. Why should you prune them? Tomatoes like to be trained. They will produce higher yields and be less pore to stress and disease when trained properly. To begin this process, you need to determine where the central plant is. This can be your choice, as you will train them to grow the way you want. Find what you feel is the strongest section of the plant, and break off all of the rest of the plant.
I find it especially important to break off any leaves that are touching the ground. This will help you to prevent fungal infections like blight. You will see blight happen during wet snaps when the leaves are continuously wet. Often, a dry period will follow and stress the plants. This is when blight really takes hold. If you notice yellowing, spotted leaves, your plants have blight. Break them off and don’t compost them. Throw them in the garbage, as they’re highly contaminating.
You will need to constantly prune, breaking off side shoots if you want to focus on the central stalk. Doing so, does require constant attention. I usually start the season off well, and well, you know….It is best to try to keep on them about once a week (they get unruly very fast!).
I promise your ‘maters will do much better if you tie them. Tying ensures they will continue to grow straight. You’ll want to retie every 6″-1’ of growth. Tomato plants can grow to be more than 6 feet tall, so tying is essential. As soon as they have put fruit onto the plants, they become very heavy. If your plants aren’t tied, they will break, and you will lose those prize possessions. So get out there each week, check on them, and tie them up!
Here’s my video on how to stake your tomatoes!
Best of luck and happy growing!