A How-To Guide For Pruning Your Tomato Plants

A How-To Guide For Pruning Your Tomato Plants
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A How-To Guide For Pruning Your Tomato Plants

If you're a big fan of big, juicy, exceptional tomatoes, then knowing how to prune them properly will be an asset to you. There are Determinate and Indeterminate varieties and each one requires its own pruning method.

Determinate - The Determinate variety of tomato produces its fruits all at once about the same time. If you watch them closely you will see the leaves stop being produced and your green tomatoes begin ripening. These Determinate type tomatoes are great for sandwiches. They include the Beef Steak, Celebrity, and Roma tomatoes.

Uncertain - The vague tomatoes are utilized most ordinarily in plates of mixed greens. These are the Cherry, Early Girl, and Big Boy types. These are the sort of assortments that produce organic products that will mature in a more dynamic manner and not all simultaneously.

Both of these varieties will require the use of different pruning techniques in order to maximize your crop.

Always use your fingers when pruning tomatoes. If you prune regularly enough, about once each
week, then it should be fairly easy to just 'pinch' of the stems. This method leaves a fast-healing wound that is less susceptible to infection.

Determinate Pruning - To prune your Determinate tomatoes look for 'suckers'. These are stems that have begun to grow between your main stem and a branch. Pinch these off (known as 'simple pruning). Doing this weekly and consistently prevents having to deal with hard stems that are difficult to remove.

 Look for any early blossoms and if you find them and your plant isn't ready to handle fruits yet, then remove them. The whole purpose of pruning is preventing your tomato plants from throwing its energy into bearing fruits before it can actually handle it. Removing these suckers encourages the plant to grow bigger and get stronger and not throw all that energy into the suckers.

As you come to the end of your growing season you need to 'top' your plants. That means pinching off the tops of your main stem referred to as the "terminal". When you top your plant is will allow it to finish up the ripening process on the green tomatoes still hanging without growing further up the main stem. Neglecting to top your plants means more stems and leaves will be produced. This leads to wimpy green fruit that nobody enjoys.

Indeterminate Pruning - Take off all blossoms until your tomato plant grows to 18 inches tall. The indeterminate types will produce several vines. Help your plants to focus their energy on producing tomatoes by eliminating all of these vines except for a couple.

Pinch the suckers off same as with the Determinate varieties. If you're planning on leaving two to three vines, then let the stems grow slightly above your first fruit cluster.

The Missouri Pruning method is one where rather than taking off the whole sucker, you just take off the part that sits above your first two leaves and are closest to the main stem. This method lets those two leaves to stay on there and this helps the plant to harvest additional energy from the sun through those leaves. New suckers grow very fast so this method will increase your pruning chores overall.

Extra Tip - Tobacco and tomatoes DO NOT MIX. Always wash your hands before working with your tomato plants if you are a smoker. Residue on your hands can spread a virus to your tomatoes.

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