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hendi_alex
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Tomatoes growing out of the tops of cages

This year I plan of making some extensions for my concrete re-enforcing wire and will twist tie them to my five foot cages, making them about seven feet tall. As an alternative, I'm wondering if it would make sense to simply cut a tomato bush back to about two feet and let it start over with new growth. Has anyone reading this tried such before, and if so, how well did it work?
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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somegeek
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What is your rule of thumb for limiting the number of tomato clusters with that height?

I've tried to limit my plants to eight clusters off the main stem(read this somewhere a while back), so height hasn't been too much an issue.

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hendi_alex
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Prior to this year, I've never culled fruit non pruned anything other than diseased or damaged branches. The plants always produce far more fruit than we need, and the fruit generally has good size. So I've never really seen any reason to prune or manage a tomato plants growth. However, when the plants top the baskets and start cascading down the side, I start having problems gathering the fruit, discouraging pests, and keeping the plants from getting disease and having it spread. That is why I've decided to try and control that issue this year.
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I fear this is going to be an issue for me as well this year. For the first time I am growing ONLY heirloom indeterminates, and although I knew better, I've put 1.99 cone cages from K-Mart on them, and I have a strong feeling they are laughing at me behind my back. The plants, not the cages. :? I have already taken twine and created a network between all the cages and the fence behind the main bed so that hopefully, some of the branches can 'run' on the twine. But it's going to be interesting to see what the ultimate outcome will be. I don't want to cull ANYTHING except disease, because I'm after the monster harvest. But I may have to.

Rebecca

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somegeek
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elevenplants wrote:I fear this is going to be an issue for me as well this year. For the first time I am growing ONLY heirloom indeterminates, and although I knew better, I've put 1.99 cone cages from K-Mart on them, and I have a strong feeling they are laughing at me behind my back. The plants, not the cages. :? I have already taken twine and created a network between all the cages and the fence behind the main bed so that hopefully, some of the branches can 'run' on the twine. But it's going to be interesting to see what the ultimate outcome will be. I don't want to cull ANYTHING except disease, because I'm after the monster harvest. But I may have to.

Rebecca
I made this mistake as well. The next year I went out an picked up the much larger, heavier gauge cages and they've done the job well. The smaller ones have collected dust. :)

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Re: Tomatoes growing out of the tops of cages

hendi_alex wrote:This year I plan of making some extensions for my concrete re-enforcing wire and will twist tie them to my five foot cages, making them about seven feet tall.
I read that using hog rings to fasten your cages together worked really well. I am planning on trying it this year if my plants get tall enough.
Rick

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rainbowgardener
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cutting tomatoes back

I've never heard of cutting tomatoes back like that, but I'm sure they'd survive it. You just would stop your harvest for awhile, because you'd be cutting all the blossoms and baby fruit off. Alternatively, you could just try pinching out all the growing tips once the plant is as big as you want it to be. That slows it down some.

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Planted the tomatoes 2 weeks ago.
Had a bad storm, one of the plants 8-10 inches at the time bent just above the ground. :cry: It has started to regrow, sort of a laid over in the shape of a "?" looking plant. Now comes the first suckers, just below the bend.
I am thinking of cutting it above the two suckers, to get rid of the 90 degree bend. It just may cause problems down the road(don't know).
My thoughts are the plant will be stronger in the long run with the hard trim now.
This would be the (early) equivalent to the major culling, Alex suggests. Of course it isn't due to outgrowing the cages.
Should I snip? :twisted: or nurture the bad bend? :?

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hendi_alex
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I don't worry too much about bad bends that develop in some plants, though will try to straighten the plant a bit when planting or when setting in the cupport cage. Tomato vines are pretty flexible and this year I put a small diameter support (half inch or less diameter) beside a couple of plants, straightened the main stem as much a possible and then twist tied against the support. That removed some pretty serious bends in a couple of plants. I also cut most growth that starts within a few inches of the soil line and only allow bare main stems in the first foot or two. Am much more diligent in that since reading related threads at this forum.
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Alex,
This plant the bend is just over 90 degrees. it went straight to the ground, although it is not actually touching the ground now, but still 90+ degree.

I should have straghtened it right away, but was very busy(wife in hospital).
Now, I am thinking to straighten the plant, it will surely snap, of course tomatoes will likely heal over. But, the curve would then be to the other side. Definately would look goofy, but the cage would support the plant.

Wouldn't it be less trouble to snip and let those first suckers grow?
I would only loose about a foot(all curve) and it is early in the season here.

One detail, it is a Rutgers. If that matters.

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hendi_alex
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Heck, rutgers as I'm sure you know is determinate. I would either just support the plant the best I could, or would place cardboard or heavy layers of newspaper underneath and let the plant sprawl on the ground. Your harsh pruning would likely work, with it being so early in the season, so if you have plenty of other plants, perhaps that is worth a try.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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I think if you build up the soil underneath so the bend is touching the ground, it'll grow roots from there. You could even cover the whole bent over part.... Is this not feasible?

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I may have to rethink this.
You both have some good ideas.
I am going to mull this over.
Give it the weekend and take a look at both those ideas.

Even with the determinates, I like cages to keep things together. I have them at 18 inches apart and the cages touch and get wired together

I really like the mounding, not sure I can get the dirt to stay up that high(they are in raised beds filled to the top) without putting up a small box.

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2cents, if it were me, I'd probably let it go and see what it does. I would think as long as its caged it would be fine, especially being a determinate. (I have 12 rutger plants out myself)

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