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We are so thrilled to see so many folks growing backyard tomatoes this year! Tomatoes are a wonderful and prolific crop to grow, especially for beginning gardeners, but they have a tendency to grow a little crazy. We found that regular (and rigorous) pruning, staking, and training make healthier and even more prolific plants. In this post, Ruby will show you how to give your tomatoes a quarantine haircut!
Here is an example of “before” and “after” the quarantine haircut. This is our friend Paula’s Talent tomato – and she allowed Ruby to give this beautiful but overgrown plant a bit of a trim.
Here’s a video that Ruby shot, explaining her philosophy of pruning tomatoes, which we like to call the “jarhead” haircut.
- remove dead and burnt/fried/sickly leaves,
- remove “suckers” from the bottom of the plant,
- remove leaves below the first fruit set,
- remove branches & large leaf sets that are not fruitful (no flowers/fruit on those parts),
- don’t remove leaves that are providing shade over your developing tomatoes – but do remove the lower leaves that don’t see the sun anyway.
Here’s the next phase of staking and training tomato plants – Paula and her housemate are going to stake the branches to provide further support. To properly stake your tomatoes, you’ll need strong sturdy garden stakes and some twist ties or twine (zip-ties work in a pinch).
Giving your tomatoes this rather drastic haircut makes watering easy because you can clearly see the main stem, maximizes ventilation to prevent mold/mildew/bugs, and allows the plant to focus on productive growth rather than “busywork” of creating more leaves and branches at the bottom.
Hope this helps you grow the best and most prolific tomatoes!!