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tomato pruning

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tomato pruning

Post  ggunderson80 on 4/19/2010, 10:14 am

hey,

We've picked up the 'All New Square Foot Gardening' book from a friend, and have built the boxes. We have a question about tomatoes.

Mel has about a page discussion about prunning off side stems from tomatoes in order to just have one main vine. However, when do you do this? Only on little plants when you first transplant them, or the whole time as the plant grows? This is someone scary as many tomatoes grow on the branches that come off the main vine.

He also talks briefly about fruiting branches, which concerns me because I'm scared I'll cut off some of these and not the ones he was talking about earlier that need to be trimmed.

Basically I need some more clarification on this issue.

Also, he discusses planting tomatoes in a 'lay down' method instead of straight up and down. Has anyone tried this?

Thanks in advance!

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also....

Post  ggunderson80 on 4/19/2010, 10:16 am

does anyone have any pictures that would show when mature pruned tomato plant? It would help explain.

Thanks again!

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  chocolatepop on 4/19/2010, 12:02 pm



heres one near the bottom
http://www.extension.org/article/18647

http://organicgardening.about.com/od/vegetablesherbs/f/pruningtomatoes.htm

there are many many more also Smile

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  Judge Kemp on 4/19/2010, 11:40 pm

Ggunderson beat me to this question. I hadn't had to worry about it yet, but figured I'd post for some clarification on that discussion of Mel's once I had to start cutting. Thanks to the poster for posting the pic--very helpful and clears it up a lot.

If you're pruning right away, though, how do you know where that first flowering cluster is going to be? Smile

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  Toastie on 4/20/2010, 10:05 pm

What I am doing is taking the lowest branches first until I see the first flowers. So far my plants are about 18 inches high and I trimmed out about the first 9 inches.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  Shoda on 4/22/2010, 12:12 am

Wow, that is really great information. Thanks for sharing. I am still a bit confused about when to remove those extra bottom leaves. If suckers are removed as it grows, can the lower leaves be trimmed after the first flower branch appears?

Also, I assume this is for indeterminante tomatoes. What do you do with determinante tomatoes and how can you tell when it is growing if you don't already know? Someone gave my kids some tomatoes and they wrote down only "Orange Tomato" and nothing else.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  chocolatepop on 4/22/2010, 9:23 am

I havent pruned my determinate tomatoes, but I have read that when people do, they just take the leaves off below the first set of flowers.

Last year I didnt prune until my plants were almost 3 feet tall. So it doesn't really matter when you prune those lower stems I don't think, you are just opening it up and aerating. From what I understand, the suckers should be pruned regularily.



Here is another good artitical
http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

Heres another
http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-prune-tomato-plants-234904/


Idk if you'll be able to tell what kind of tomato it is this young, but I found this information:

Indeterminate and Determinate: Five to 10 leaf fronds emerge out of the primary shoot of a young tomato vine before a flower cluster emerges. That means there will be at least 4 internodes and up to 9 internodes (stem segments between leaf axils) before a flower cluster appears on the vine.

Indeterminate: Although indeterminate plants appear to have a single main stem, this is actually not the case. The growth of the primary shoot ("main stem") ends with the formation of the first flower. Upward growth continues because the last leaf initiated before the flower cluster (which actually grows to occupy a position above the cluster) produces a side shoot. This side shoot produces three more leaves before it terminates in a flower cluster. This process of initiating new growth from a side shoot of the last leaf initiated before the flower cluster continues indefinitely, giving the appearance of a mainstem with a flower cluster in the internode between every three leaf nodes. Examples: Big Boy, Better Boy, Brandywine, Big Beef, Sun Gold, many heritage types.

Determinate: In determinate cultivars the process differs in that the side shoot above the first flower cluster produces 0 to 2 leaf nodes and a flower cluster but no further vegetative shoots. This ends the upward growth of the plant, making the apparent main stem much shorter. Many side shoots arise from the primary shoot, giving the plant a bushy appearance, but each eventually terminates in a flower cluster as did the primary shoot. The simultaneous growth of many flower clusters on determinate vines promotes earliness and concentrates fruit maturity compared to indeterminates. Examples: Mountain Spring, Scarlet Red, Mozark, most modern commercial canners.

"Semi-determintes:" Shoots of semi-determinate plants produce several flower clusters to the side of an apparent main stem, like indeterminates, but eventually the shoot terminates in a flower cluster, as in determinate plants. Example: Celebrity (and for me, the Bradley tomato I've grown for several years now).

So the basics are:

Indeterminate: After the first flower cluster emerges, then 3 or more nodes between subsequent flower clusters.

Determinate: After the first flower cluster emerges, then 0 to 2 nodes between subsequent flower clusters.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  timwardell on 4/22/2010, 10:15 am

@ggunderson80 wrote:
Mel has about a page discussion about prunning off side stems from tomatoes in order to just have one main vine. However, when do you do this? Only on little plants when you first transplant them, or the whole time as the plant grows? This is someone scary as many tomatoes grow on the branches that come off the main vine.

Also, he discusses planting tomatoes in a 'lay down' method instead of straight up and down. Has anyone tried this?
ggunderson80, I've planted tomatoes both "laying down" and straight up and down. Both work well. My raised beds are 12" deep so I use the straight up and down method. I take the transplant and remove the lower leaves and bury 2/3 of the plant in the ground. Roots will form up and down the stem that is buried in the ground. ... When I've planted tomatoes in shallower raised beds - 6" - I do it the way Mel describes in the book. Put the transplants in at an angle. -- Both methods help the plant establish more roots and therefore have a stronger root structure.

As for pruning suckers, yes, it's something you have to do on a regular basis over the course of the growing season with indeterminate varieties. I shot a video about this just last week for my blog but haven't edited it yet. I hope to do so tonight and if so I'll post a link here so you can see what I'm talking about.

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Please tell me more?

Post  Guest on 4/22/2010, 9:15 pm

I built my SFG using 1x6 lumber, but the lumber is really more like 1x5.5.

Does this mean I should use the lay-down method to transplant my tomato plants? I read this whole string of post, and I am very grateful for the pruning support. Thank you.

However, I am still really unsure about how to transplant using the lay-down method.

Mr. Wardell, (or anyone who knows...)... you mention planting the tomato plants at an angle for 6 inch beds. I read Mel's book, and I failed to understand this. Your post is helping me to feel like I might be able to just do it, but I just don't get it yet. It seems upside-down or something! Is it like those topsy turvey upside-down tomato plants sold on TV where it doesn't matter what direction the plant is pointing, just so the plant can access lots of great soil and develop lots of rooting? So what angle please? 45 degrees? And what direction do I point the tip of the foliage please?

Thank you so much!!!! Where is your blog video? I'd like to watch it!

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  boffer on 4/22/2010, 10:38 pm

Hi Julian

glad you\'re here to the forum. You're right, this is a very interesting thread. The lay-down or trench method is just a way to get more stalk into the soil. Tomato plants actually benefit by being planted deeper when being transplanted, as Tim said.

Make a 'trench' to roughly half the depth of your soil. Lay the roots and stem into the trench. Then gently curve the foliage end up till it's nearly vertical. It will kinda be 'L' shaped with a long gentle corner. Use a stake or trellis to support it. In a couple weeks it will become used to that position. The roots are content to grow sideways.

Chances are, sooner or later, you'll break a stem. Both pieces can be re-rooted successfully if you have enough growing season to start over.

Nice to know: there are many gardeners in the SW parts of the US who would never prune their tomatoes, other than a few suckers. The foilage keeps the hot sun from cooking the tomatoes on the vine!

Not to worry, tomatoes do well in 5 inches of Mel's mix.

Happy gardening

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tomaters

Post  Guest on 4/23/2010, 9:50 am

Thank you so much, Boffer!



Julian

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  timwardell on 4/23/2010, 9:57 am

My tomato planting & pruning video can be found here:
http://www.timsbackyard.com/
It's the first one (top of the page) so you can't miss it. Probably won't win me an Emmy but it'll do.

@Julian - I think boffer answered your question. As with anything gardening related, there are a dozen different ways to do anything and all have their place. I personally don't like to "bend" my transplants into an 'L' shape because I've accidentally broken too many over the years. When planting in shallow beds, I dig my hole at a 45 degree angle (or 30 degrees if space is REALLY an issue). Stick the root ball at the bottom of the hole with the top of plant sticking out of the ground. Yes, the top of the tomato will be at whatever angle you dug your hole but it will straighten up all by itself and do so rather quickly. Plants tend to do that because of the sun, gravity, etc. Very Happy

I promise you this works. I've never had a tomato continue to grow at an angle.

Best of luck.

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thank you!

Post  Guest on 4/23/2010, 10:02 am

Thank you, Tim Wardell!


--Julian

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WOW Tim, your video is perfect! Thank you so much!

Post  Guest on 4/23/2010, 10:06 am

I am watching it now. Oh my gosh....thank you for doing this....

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Pruning tomatoes

Post  ander217 on 4/23/2010, 11:35 am

Tim, thanks for your videos. They are mega-helpful.

Boffer, I don't think it's only the SW who doesn't prune tomatoes. I don't think many folks in my area do, either. I guess it's to prevent sunscald, and maybe to help keep the soil temps cooler in mid-summer when the heat causes blossom drop.

Do tomatoes need to be pruned to grow on a trellis? I've always staked or caged mine in the past in my old garden and let the foliage grow at will. If I prune for the trellis, what prevents sunscald? If I don't prune, or do a limited pruning, can I still plant with the same spacing?

So many questions, and so little time. (I plan to set out my tomatoes this afternoon if I can beat the rain.) Thanks for any advice.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  boffer on 4/23/2010, 11:59 am

What we need, and I don't have time right now, is a thread called 'pruning tomatoes: is it necessary?'

My short answer is no.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  timwardell on 4/23/2010, 10:05 pm

@boffer wrote:What we need, and I don't have time right now, is a thread called 'pruning tomatoes: is it necessary?'
My short answer is no.
I agree. I remove suckers to keep the plants in check but as for pruning - which I define as the removing of leaves - no way. With the intense sunshine and heat we have in Texas during the summer I think the 'maters would scald in a hurry. I know Texas gardeners that do it, but I've never understood why. Some claim it increases yield because the plant isn't using energy on leaves, but what's the point of having more tomatoes if they're burnt to a crisp?

Check out this video of EXTREME pruning (don't do this!) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFta7aWXCdU (that's insane!)

Here's a GOOD video about removing suckers and pruning.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eak7yj0tEvM

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square foot gratitude

Post  Guest on 4/23/2010, 11:42 pm

This forum is so helpful. Thank you, Boffer. I planted a few where I didn't prune them.

Thank you, TimWardell, for the pruning videos showing the difference between extreme pruning (butchering) and acceptable pruning. I planted a few where I did prune them.

Using TimsBackYard dot com video and Boffer's detailed description of the laydown method of planting, I was able to finally confidently plant today! My very first garden ever. This is very exciting.

I am very grateful for this forum and for Mel. Thank you all so much.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  boffer on 4/24/2010, 1:39 am

Hi Julian,
I see you got your avatar posted without my help! Wink I did reply to your PM, but it is still sitting in my outbox. Is there any chance you see the words 'New Pm' in the green nav bar at the top of every page? I ask because I have two other PMs, to other folks, that have not been received in the last few days. I'm trying to figure out if there is a problem developing or not.
Thanks

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  Lavender Debs on 4/24/2010, 10:05 am

@timwardell wrote:With the intense sunshine and heat we have in Texas during the summer I think the 'maters would scald in a hurry. I know Texas gardeners that do it, but I've never understood why. Some claim it increases yield because the plant isn't using energy on leaves, but what's the point of having more tomatoes if they're burnt to a crisp?


I spent 25 years in the polar regions on the PNW. Mountain folk prune for a couple of reasons.
A#1 is to show off any spots of red that might start to glow in mid August.
In addition, we have such wet weather. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't the rain so much as the system that wobbles back and forth between drizzle and evaporation you can see. In an attempt to keep plants from getting sick as the fruit actually starts to ripen we make them look like caged trees with a trunk. Although in truth it has more to do with resistance and the occasional good year than any of our pruning tricks.

Deborah ....wondering what it might be like to see a tomato in need of paba

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  timwardell on 4/24/2010, 10:07 am

Congratulations Julian! ...Now when you get the chance, post some pictures of your first ever garden so that other newbies might be inspired by your efforts. Very Happy

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Pruning videos

Post  ander217 on 4/24/2010, 10:55 am

Tim, those youtube videos were awesome. Thanks so much for the link.

In looking at the extreme pruning video, I was put in mind of my tomatoes after we were away from home on vacation, and came home to find the tomato patch had been invaded by tomato hornworms.

If I wanted to follow his method (which I don't) all I would have to do is stop handpicking the worms. They would do all the pruning necessary.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  kimbies on 4/24/2010, 4:04 pm

Thanks for all the Pruning info... I've been doing this since I was a tot - pinching suckers as I followed PawPaw down long rows.. Never knew it was called pruning, though.
When I read about pruning tomatoes in the book, I envisioned a beautiful tomato espalier! Glad to know it's going to be a lot simpler than that.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  Shoda on 4/25/2010, 11:19 am

Tim - Thank youi for the video. It explained a lot. What does a "flower" branch look like when it starts to grow from the main stem? Will it look a lot different from the leaf/sucker combination?

After watching your video, I picked up 3 of those green tomato cages you talked about. I had been eyeing them at the store for weeks and wasn't sure how they would work in a SFG setting. I have used the green poles before and really like them. In fact, I had so many left from my garden last year that I am using them to mark off my SFG grid.

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Re: tomato pruning

Post  timwardell on 4/25/2010, 3:57 pm

@Shoda wrote:Tim - Thank youi for the video. It explained a lot. What does a "flower" branch look like when it starts to grow from the main stem? Will it look a lot different from the leaf/sucker combination?
A flower branch will have buds/flowers on it and few if any leaves. It should be easy to determine from a normal (leafy) branch. ... Check the diagram that chocolatepop posted earlier in this thread and you'll see what I mean.

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