Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tomato Update

First off it seems that I have not been blogging much about the veggie patch lately. To solve this I am going to post every day or two on a particular variety in the patch until everything has been covered.

I had a very productive evening in the veggie patch today and my labor was mainly focused on the tomatoes. After the mini heat wave we had two weeks ago followed by last weeks cool damp weather the tomatoes had gone crazy. Since planting them I had not pruned them at all so I had lots to snip out. Here is a before and after of the plants:

Before, lower view

After, lower view

Before, top view

After, top view

I started off by removing all the lower suckers, most had grown 36" already! I also remove the lower leaves before they got diseased. I then focused my attention on the middle & top portion of the plants and pruned to 2-3 stems per plant. Once this was done I then removed any suckers that were growing on the remaining 2-3 stems as long as they didn't have any flowers on them.

With this done the plants will have good air circulation to reduce disease problems. It will allow more light into the plants to ripen fruit faster and should produce bigger fruit by reducing fruit set. It will also make it easier for me to find them as I planted rather closely.

With that said pruning suckers out of tomatoes is a bit of a controversial topic. Some say pruning is beneficial well others say it just reduces fruit set because you are removing branches. I think if I had the space I would just let them grow. I don't so I prune.

Here are the other two sections of tomatoes with the top being the black cherry, black zebra & chocolate stripes topsy's and the bottoming being my oak barrel grown jersey devil tomatoes. The topsy's are growing well with fruit just starting to set well. The jersey devils on the hand are kind of spindly and yellow. I think they just need some prolonged heat to get growing, lets hope that arrives some day.

I will end this tomato update with photos of the current fruit on the plants:

Mister Early, Siletz. RIP first fruit.

Pink Berkly Tye Dye, seed from Judy's SFG

Cherokee Purple

Black Zebra, seed saved from the grocery store.


  1. Your tomato patches are looking good Dan. I tend not to prune but there was a time when I did. We have had some warm weather again, and I am hopeful that the first tomatoes will finally start ripening as a result.

  2. You have beautiful tomatoes. Love the topsy turvies with flowers in the top.

  3. I like how you put flowers in the tops of the tomato planter. I can't wait to see all the different ones ripen.

  4. Yes! they just go crazy when your back is turned at this time of year. I think I go over my tomato plants regularly and take off the side shoots, but it amazes me how many I must miss that grow up to be giant shoots!

  5. Won't be long now and those tomatoes will be red-e for the picking:)

  6. I begin the season with diligent pruning, then tend to start putting it off, and end up forgetting about it all's a jungle out there! I strolled by my plants the other day and counted 154 (green) tomatoes. That was just glancing at the fronts of plants, and didn't include cherry tomatoes. I sometimes think they will never ripen, but I'm sure when they do it will be all at once and I'll be overwhelmed...and canning like mad!

  7. I'm pruning some of my tomatoes this year, well, trying at least. Somehow a few suckers snuck up on me and were so big by the time I saw them (don't know HOW I missed them) they were so big I didn't want to cut them off. I planted closer (and more plants) than I ever have before, so it may get interesting out there.

  8. I don't prune because we're so blight prone. Sometimes the suckers replace the stems attacked by blight. And I'm lazy!

  9. Dan, thanks for going into detail about what you are doing with your tomatoes. I've never done anything in the past in the way of pruning or removing suckers, which would have been to my benefit in the past. Some of my plants have been so unruly, growing out in different directions without a strong stem and in some cases not adequate fruit. So I like reading about what other gardeners are doing.