elementfiftyfour
Cool Member
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Metairie, Louisiana

About pricking out tomato plants.

Ok so my tomato plants are already like 4-5 foot tall and outgrowing the cages. I want to stop the outward growing and force them to start producing more fruits. When growing tomatos in a much larger garden i never had to deal with limiting their growth or pricking out the ends till the end of the season. So, I have already started pricking out the ends of the main stems so that they stop growing out further but will this also limit the flowering shoots?

Ok, what I'm trying to get at is this. Will new flowering shoots grow out of the pre existing main branches or do they only grow out of the new growth at the ends. There are already flowering shoots and tomatos growing on the plant but if i start pricking out the ends now will i eliminate the potential for more new fruits or will they get the hint and start growing out of the main stems?

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Alright! :) Here is the skinny on producing more fruit with your tomatoe plants.

First of all there is no way to stop the tomato plants from outgrowing their cages without causing stress to the plants and therefore producing less fruit. Tomatoes cages are pretty much useless and I don't know why they are made the way they are because they don't work. What works really well is a 6 foot cedar stake. Use old nylons cut into strips to tie the tomatoes to the stakes. The gardeners tape stretches and doesn't work that well.

So, the secret to producing more fruit is to do what is called "Suckering" the plants. This is when you pinch off the little leaflets that arise between the main branches of your plant and the stem. You just need to pinch them off when you see them

This way the plant puts all it's energy into producing fruit instead of growing new vines. Works like a charm

If in the fall all your fruit is not ripe yet, don't despair. Now is the time to strip all the leaves off your plant and the fruit will ripen.

Use organic fertilzers. I always add a handful of kelp meal in the hole when planting and then sprinkle some around the plant. I also fertilize each week with liquid seaweed and liquid fish fertilizer (I alternate each week).

Hope that helps and if you have any question, don't hesitate to ask!

Opabinia

User avatar
atascosa_tx
Cool Member
Posts: 96
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:19 pm
Location: Atascosa

Sounds like pruning..you can take off the suckers that grow in between the main stalk and the stem..that makes the plant focus more energy to the developing fruit..the plant will grow more suckers and more stems..the end result is less toms..but the ones on the vine are healthier and bigger..

I grow in cages and just let them go wild..35 plants..sheez..
what I get is what i get..

User avatar
atascosa_tx
Cool Member
Posts: 96
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:19 pm
Location: Atascosa

Opa...as I was pondering..I posted after you...and I agree to a point..
Good advice..

happy gardening

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

"To a point...." please expand, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

elementfiftyfour
Cool Member
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Metairie, Louisiana

I realize that suckering will cause the fruits that are already on the plant to form, develop and ripen but if i start suckering out the tips of new growth at the ends of the stems i don't want to completely stop the production of "new" fruits? I guess i'll just work on a happy medium.


opa, i kinda do a mix of what you are describing with tieing in my tomato plants. Generally after they have outgrown the cages enough i start tieing in the limbs with bailing twine. This is pretty easily done by loosely tieing a loop around the limb and then tieing it off to the cage.


As far as not having my tomatoes ripen by the fall. Well.... I'm sure i won't have that problem, they are getting there already. I have already counted about a dozen tomatoes on my four early plants. I put them in the ground pretty early though, March 1st. :P

Thanks for the tips kiddies.

doccat5
Green Thumb
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:48 pm
Location: VA

If you want to encourage fruit set, you can also spray your tomato plants with epsom salts water. The formula is 1 tablespoon to a gallon of warm water, mix thoroughly and spray the entire plant. The tomatoes love the extra shot of magnesium and will set fruit like crazy. The espom salts water also works on peppers and squash as well. Lovely stuff.

I normally run mine up a heavy wire trellis type arrangement. I don't bother to sucker, since I usually have tomatoes coming out my ears by mid summer.

If you want fresh tomatoes thru January. You can pick all the green ones off the vines, layer in black and white newspaper and store in a cool, dry area. Just check periodically for ripening ones or one that might be going bad. I also plant several of the late ripening long keeper types so we have fresh homegrown tomatoes thru Jan and sometimes Feb here. Better than those tasteless things in the store........Yucky!
doccat5

I'd rather be gardening!

User avatar
atascosa_tx
Cool Member
Posts: 96
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:19 pm
Location: Atascosa

Opa
the part that tomato cages don't work..My cages aren't like those at the hardware store..small on the bottom and large on top..I agree those are useless..(if these are the ones being talked about)
mine were made from CRW (concrete reinforcing wire) and are about 2 1/2 foot wide and 5 foot tall. I just train the tomato stems and vines as they grow to an upper level of the cage until the plant tops out...indeter variety around 7ft and deter variety around 5 foot.

Your other information was spot on.. :)

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Thanks everyone this is a great thread!

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”