Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tomato training

In garden seasons past, I've raised some pretty unruly tomato plants.  This year, it's my goal to keep the plants neater, for both aesthetic and scientific reasons.  In the gardening class I took this spring, we learned that better-tended plants produce more fruit, and more airflow around plants can reduce pests and disease.  In the class we received this drawing of a suggestion for how to stake and stabilize tomato plants:

Using this system, you only need one stake for every two plants, and don't have to fool around with those  messy tomato cages.  I feel like I managed a decent reproduction of this in my 2 rows of tomato plants:

I actually planted these seedlings several weeks ago, but had to wait for them to grow a few inches before I could weave the twine around them. 

I'm really hoping this little system works.  I've also been taking care to prune these plants like crazy, removing any sucks or very low "branches" that won't bear fruit.  A friend told me that she prunes everything beneath the lowest flower - anyone heard of this?  I don't have flowers yet but it's something I'll certainly try.  Below is another picture from the gardening class - this one showing how to identify and prune a "sucker" - which is basically a stalk that does nothing but suck energy out of the plant and never produces a tomato.  They are much more obvious once the plant is larger, but you don't want to wait too long as they will take nutrients away from your developing fruit!

So here's hoping that in a month or so I'll be able to celebrate another windowsill full of tomatoes.  10 plants should be enough for 2 people, right?

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