Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pruning Tomatoes

Early in the spring, I decided that this would be the year of the tomato for me.  I've become more and more aware of the unhealthiness of canned tomatoes, (due to the BPA that gets leached into the tomatoes from the can,) so I really want to can my own that I can use year-round.

So I have 15 tomato plants in the garden.  And most of them are from the seeds I saved from last year.  Their sheer number is one of the main reasons it looks like a jungle in my backyard since they're growing so well and look so bushy.  But now that they all have little green guys on it and have a ton of flowers, their bushiness can be a detractor to tomato production.  I just recently learned that you can prune tomato plants to help with production.  The basic idea behind it is that if you take off some of the lower branches that have no flowers or fruit, the plant will send more of the sugars and energy that it creates through photosynthesis to the fruit instead of to useless branches and leaves.

Obviously you need most of the leaves to actually photosynthesize, but the hardiness of a tomato plant can handle some pruning.  I did do some research on how to prune plants but got a little overwhelmed with some of the websites I came across so decided to just use my own personal horticultural knowledge of understanding of how plants work and did it myself.

Basically, I just made sure to cut off branches that were down low or in the middle of the plant that got less sunlight than the rest of the plant.  I also made sure none of the branches I cut had any flowers or fruit.  I think I cut off 5-6 branches on each plant.  I probably could have cut off more, but decided to take it easy.  Hopefully this helps production.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I should have left one plant alone and weighed the fruit that came off of it and compared it to another plant to see the difference.  Maybe next year.  But this year, come on tomatoes!  And come on good weather!  Make my tomatoes red!

The red circles are where you could cut. I think I left the middle one on this particular plant.

The leftovers.

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