The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Weekly tomato upkeep

First tomato pruning

It's that time of year again --- the season for weekly doting upon our tomato plants! The first round of pruning is simple --- I snip off the bottom leaves so none are touching the ground, then I pinch off any suckers, no matter how small. If suckers have grown too large to pinch, First tomato bloomsI instead cut them with clippers. Then I look at the many beautiful bloom buds (and the open flowers on the plants I set out a week earlier) and smile for the rest of the day.

That said, I am doing a few things differently this year. Most significant (I hope) will be growing only blight-resistant varieties (although given our current weather, blight might not be an issue this year anyway). I've also set out plants much closer together than usual and am pruning each to one main stem instead of to three. I feel like my previous efforts to beat the blight with maximum air flow between plants didn't do much good, so why waste space?

On a different note, I'm not surprised but I continue to be charmed by how the earth perks up so-so transplants. I started another set of seedlings in early May just in case my started-too-early transplants didn't make it, but I've only had to replace two of the first round of thirty transplants. Within a week of hitting real soil, everyone else perked up and grew happy new leaves, proving that our natural ecosystem is 100% better than anything I can replicate in pots in a sunny window. If I was listing the top ten things I love, growing in real earth would be one near the top of the list!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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An article in the recent June/July issue of Mother Earth News magazine suggests suckers don't sap energy from the main tomato plant and removal of suckers reduces potential yield. I've always pruned. Would be interested to hear others thoughts and experiences/experiments.
Comment by Karen Wed May 27 13:21:24 2015
Karen --- I don't actually prune for yield issues, except indirectly. Pruning allows more air into the plants, which means the leaves dry off faster during our usual wet summers. That slows our inevitable bouts of blight (which is the same reason I stake our tomatoes off the ground). If I lived in the arid southwest, I probably wouldn't prune and might not even stake! So, my recommendations depend on your climate.
Comment by anna Wed May 27 17:13:48 2015

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