Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tomato, Tomahto

I love a fresh-picked, sun warmed tomato in the summer. Who doesn't? This year we planted sweet 100s cherry tomatoes and some Big Beefy tomatoes. In the past we have tied up our tomato plants to cages and then scrounged among the greenery for the produce.

Around about February of this year I stumbled across a book called Square Foot Gardening that explicitly showed how to maximize the garden in a small space. Even though we have a large lot for suburbia, most of it is woods, and precious little gets enough sun to support a garden. This was my kind of program. More on square foot gardening in future posts, stay tuned.

In the tomato section, it showed how to prune tomato plants in the clearest manner I've seen. So I decided to introduce some discipline this year. Experts say that we'll get bigger tomatoes, which would be nice, since last year the biggest was probably the size of a small plum.

But first, I have been a bad gardener and I needed to tie up my tomato plants, which were flopped all over the place. Good thing I did because they were thinking about putting down roots from the stems, I could tell.

There, now it is all neat and tidy:

Ok, back to the pruning. Do you see how the tomato plant below has the central stem and another main stem branching off to the left? But looky, there is another stem growing between the main stem and the branch!

Did I hear you say "So what?" Well, according to tomato growers more knowledgable than I, those extra shoots will sprout tomatoes but will result in smaller tomatoes over the entire plant because the plant's energy is spread too thinly. As The Queen of Hearts would say, "Off with their heads!"

Whoa. Did I go too fast for you? Here's another example to help hone your pruning skills. Which stem doesn't belong?

If you said the one in the middle, DING DING DING, you're right! Sorry we're all out of prizes today, as my dear sister-in-law DB will attest because she hasn't gotten hers yet for naming this blog.

And we'll close today's lesson with some lovely cosmos and a zinnia that are staring to come up. Thank you for tuning in to this week's edition of The Quigley Bend Garden Bender with Enders.

1 comment:

sloper said...

Hey, if you don't use leaf mulch or something like that around the plants and you may get leaf yellowing starting at the bottom and working your way up. I hear this is caused by orgs in the soil bouncing up with each rain fall. If you had a reliable source you could get leaf mulch in the fall for this, it is a lot of work but sometimes people have mulchers for this.