I spent an hour or two in the garden this morning, taking care of the tomatoes. The tomato patch was a mess, branches hanging on the ground and lots of extraneous foliage. Now it looks like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, with the plants rising out of long-overgrown baskets and clinging to six-foot stakes. I remember back when those tiny seedlings looked like they would never reach the first ring of the baskets.

That was April; this is now:



I did lots of pruning too, so maybe they’ll get busy making more tomatoes instead of growing more leaves.

Here’s my new rule for growing tomatoes. Stake early, prune often. For some reason, I bet that’s not news to anyone who has grown tomatoes in the past. I waited too long to do this, which made it a lot harder. Oh, and those tomato baskets? Yeah, I’ll be leaving those in the garage next year and starting out with stakes in place. I did discover one cool new thing (also likely not news to the experienced tomato grower), velcro plant tape.  It’s amazing!


7 Responses to “Maintenance”

  1. K. Whitmire says:

    You’re going to need a bigger stake, especially for the Cherokee Purple. The velcro tape works well, but I still prefer torn t-shirts. Nylon Pantyhose work best, but I could never bring myself to buy them.

  2. Don says:

    I stopped pruning years ago. I made cages out of concrete reinforcing wired. Each cage takes about 5 and ½ to 6 feet of wire, I cut the bottom horizontal wire in the middle of each section, bend it back to the upright wires, and I have 6 inch legs to sink into the soil. For further stability drive a 5 foot piece of rebar into the ground at one edge of the cage and tie the cage to it with a short piece of plastic-coated copper wire.

  3. Kathy says:

    Nylon Pantyhose work best, but I could never bring myself to buy them.

    :lol: Me neither, Kyle.

    Yeah, I’ll have to get some taller stakes or cut the tops out of the plants. Or maybe rig up some kind of over-the-top support system. Hmmm…

    Don, that sounds like a tomato fortress. I bet your plants are too intimidated to go wild. ;)

    Did anyone try the upside down tomatoes this year?

  4. Don says:

    Kathy, by not pruning I think the plants become more bushy, and less spindly. My cages give the limbs of the plants sufficient support which makes tying the plants up unnecessary and it’s not difficult to reach through the 6 inch openings to gather fruit. The additional limbs create more fruit than does a plant that has been pruned

  5. Kathy says:

    Don, I may be sorry I did so much pruning yesterday. I did leave all the branches that have anything that looks like it might become a bloom. The plants were quite bushy, but they were on the ground, so I don’t think they were getting enough sun. I’d love to see a picture of your tomato baskets; they sound far more effective than mine.

  6. Don says:

    I don’t have a camera and wouldn’t know how to post a photo on the internet if I did. Surely you’ve seen concrete reinforcing wire. Just imagine what a 5 and1/2 foot to 6 foot length of it would look like if it were bent into a circle that has a diameter of around 2 feet from side to side. That’s what I have.

  7. Kathy says:

    Ah, I can see it now. Thanks!

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