Hey there, SuperKasey! How the hell is life? It’s nice to hear from you about your strawberries, but we’re missing you! I’m missing you, I mean. I know life gets busy, but…Come back, Shane, come back!
Now to tomatoes.
Tomatoes are very important to me. I use them in sauces and dishes all the time. I’ve considered getting a dehydrator to make sun-dried tomatoes, too. I love them in salads, pastas or as a solo snack.
I have two varieties of tomatoes in my garden. I have one beefeater and one mortgage lifter. Both are heirloom tomato plants, which means that they come from a long line of successful plants, like a produce dynasty or something.
My sister and brother-in-law visited this past weekend, and they had some advice for maintaining and pruning tomatoes. They are both wildlife biologists and have a very large garden in their back yard in Kentucky. Their soil is mostly clay, but they grow LOTS and do a lot of canning and jarring and all that stuff that seems like far too much work to me.
They first suggested, when buying a tomato plant (something I think is well worth it; I’m not all about growing the seedlings indoors then transplanting; with tomatoes, I am okay going with plants for a start) and transplanting it, to prune stems off up to 4″ or 6″ (if your plant is, say, 12″ tall), then planting the thing not with just the roots under the soil, but those first pruned 4″-6″, too. This gives the plant a remarkably good foundation. Well, I didn’t do that, but I’ll take note for next time.
Their next suggestion was about maintenance later. As your tomato plants grow, watch for the first “Y.” That is, watch for the first place your plants’ stems grow in pairs in a Y shape and not just in single off-shoots. When you see that first Y, prune everything below it. Like this.
Also, watch for a little third stem to bud in the center of the Y, and get rid of that little guy (which I have done with the plant to the left here). This encourages tomato plants to produce fruit rather than vines.
I was also recently advised (by a season garden pro) to try to put tomato plants next to one another. This promotes teamwork in the pollination process and gives the plants a buddy with whom to pollinate. I should offer this stipulation: I’ve read that, if you are collecting seeds, it is not a great idea to put different varieties of tomato plants next to one another, as they will cross-breed. If this happens, the seeds they produce won’t be pure. They’ll be a hybrid cross-breed.
I don’t have any fruit yet, but I’m feeling good about these guys. They are coming in around 2.5′ tall. Is that good? I’m unsure, but I like them. Tomato plants have an attitude. They are kind of like, “Oh, yeah, I’m a tomato plant, I’m hairy, and I have spiky yellow flowers. SO WHAT? You can’t escape me, because my fruit is EVERYWHERE. Whatevs.”
That’s how I imagine they would talk if they could.
That’s it for today, SuperKasey. Keep digging and stay green!