pruning tomato plants

Pruning Tomato Plants

Pruning Tomato Plants involves regular inspection of your growing plants as they can sprout rapidly and develop quickly depleting the plant of vital nutrients for the developing fruits  They have a crafty way of suddenly sprouting when you weren’t looking and often even if you have been looking out for them. It is quite easy to let the plant sprout side shoots but you will end up with lots of leaves, flowers and very few fruit of any size. Pinching out these shoots is very effective,  or if you have found a long one which has been sneekily growing at the back you may need a sharp knife to remove it . You do not want to try pinching these out or snapping them as you may damage the main body of the plant.

Plants shoot/ Sucker removal

One of the great things about growing the tomato bush varieties is that you will not need to pinch out any of the side shoots as the plant tends to remain low 3- 4ft in height and compact and does not need controlling

On the other hand the cordon varieties can go mad 7ft in height, at least as long as they are growing upwards they produce as many side shoots as they can and all they have on them are leaves! So you can afford to trim some of these lower leaves off you need enough to offer shade to the developing tomatoes. Pruning tomato plants is not an exact science some people  will cut back leaves really hard, leaving only a couple on the plant and the ripening fruit, believing that the fruit will get all the nutrients rather than the excess leaves.I personally  find this method quite severe but do feel that leaves below the lowest truss can be removed without damaging the plant.

Staking Tomato plants

There are many different products on the market as support structures for tomatoes, metal, wooden, bamboo and plastic and if you are growing them in a green house you can always attached wire or string to the structure and train the tomatoes to grow up that.

Tomato Plant Trusses

How many trusses you have on each plant depends on the type of tomatoes you are growing, usually it can be between 5 and 7.

The more trusses you have the smaller the fruits will be so limiting yourself will produce a stronger crop.

Mulching Tomatoes

This  is a protective layer which is placed over soil to enhance conditionsIf you are planting your tomatoes outside in your vegetable patch or allotment mulches are a real asset for successful crops. There are two types the natural organic mulches or the plastic both serve the plants well. The main differences being that the plastic mulch will keep the soil warmed and the organic can have the reverse effect so should only be applied once the soil temperature is around 65F / 18C.

The benefit of placing mulch around your plants is that you will have reduced the amount of weeds around them and also the loss of moisture from the soil.

Watering Tomatoes

Watering enough seems to be a topic often discussed at great length- how often, how much and from the bottom or top or both if feeding.

If your plants are outside you should not need to worry too much about watering especially if you have mulched around the plants. You will probably only have to water them if there is a long drought period. If you have greenhouse tomatoes in pots or in grow bags these will require more of your attention as their watering requirements are dependant on the weather. With pots you will need to apply enough water so that the water runs out of the holes in the bottom. I have found that watering plants in the morning rather than in the evening is better for them.

If you are growing your tomatoes in grow bags or big pots you will need to make sure that they are watered regularly and not allowed to dry out. If you are erratic with watering it may lead to split fruit or blossom end rot.

When to Feed Tomato plants

If you are using grow bags they usually have enough nutrients in the bag for the first six weeks of growth so you can work out when you will need to begin to feeding.

If you are using standard compost in a large pot it is advised that you begin feeding weekly once the first pea sized fruits begin to appear on your plants. You will need to follow the instructions on the packaging as if you over feed that can cause problems as much as under feeding