The Tomato Project: Part 2

Staking Tomato Plants
I chose indeterminate tomato plants. Indeterminate plants can be made to grow on a vine, whereas determinate plants will form flowers at the top of the stalk then stop growing. The plant will grow into a bush, which must be contained.

The first step after planting was to wait. And wait. And wait.

Once I saw the first flowers, it was time to go to work. I started by erecting my tomato supports behind it. I’m not sure I did this right, and now it seems I’ll need to buy some poles, but I started with two folding tomato cages. Rather than place one around each plant, I flattened them out and dug them into the ground behind the three plants.

Cost for two tomato cages: $9.86.

I already had plastic floral ties on hand, but heavy-duty twine works, too.

Pruning Tomato Plants
Once you see flowers, it’s time to prune. I cut off everything below the first flowers, but left any leaves above it. I also cut each plant down to two stalks to force the sugar production and growth upwards rather than outwards. I probably should have done this when I transplanted them, but I wasn’t sure which stalks would survive. I think I wasted a lot of growth energy on those unnecessary stalks. There were so many leaves on one plant that finding the stalks to prune was really difficult!

Nevertheless, I pruned them back and then tossed the leaves in my compost bin. The bin desperately needed green matter, so it wasn’t a total waste.

After the initial pruning, you have to be vigilant. If you spot suckers growing out the spots where branches meet the stalk, pluck them out. If you spot dead blossoms, pop them off.

Securing the Plants
I attached the stems to the cages by looping the tie around the stem, twisting it into a figure eight, and then tying the other end to the cage. This weekend I’ll repeat the process for new growth.

My First Tomato!
So far I have precisely one tomato growing. It’s on the earliest producing plant, but the plant isn’t supposed to reach maturity until the end of May, and could be later depending on temperatures. I have what appear to be the beginnings of tomatoes on another plant. I don’t expect to see a real crop until mid-June.

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