How I prune my tomatoes is a popular question and while I was out doing that work yesterday evening, I figured it was high time that I address it here on the site.
There are countless ways to approach tomato culture, all or at least most of which are probably right and good. I am not one to force my methods down anyone’s throat — you are doing it right if it works for you. I’ve experimented with a lot of different methods over the years, sometimes intentionally and sometimes due to neglect (do not underestimate the learning that comes from doing nothing), and have made adjustments to my approach along the way. I have also adjusted based on different varieties and tomato types. The following is a general picture of how I do things to date.
To begin, I do not prune dwarf or determinate (bushing) varieties unless they are showing signs of disease. The following only applies to indeterminate (vining) varieties. That said, wild currant varieties are an exception to the rule. I try to keep them trained as best I can early in the season, but there is always a point where their growth is so fast and furious that I just let them be and try to keep them staked to the best of my ability. I find that they tend to be more disease resistant than many other types.
July was painfully hot and dry. The garden suffered and there were days when I was sure that I would lose a few plants as a result.
August, on the other hand, has been wet and somewhat cool. I really can’t complain. I don’t remember the last time I watered anything other than the pots and many plants have bounced back from the extreme conditions. The only drawback is that the earwigs and slugs have regained traction and some of my tomatoes split on the vine due to the rapid shift overnight from extremely dry to wet. I don’t like knowing that summer’s days are limited, but I do like that I can get out into the garden without burning to a crisp!
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. My garden on August 9, 2012. 2. We made Stuffed Squash Blossoms last night. First batch of the summer and SO SO good. 3. Yesterday also marked the first big batch of homegrown Roasted Tomato Soup of the season. It was a day of delicious seasonal firsts. 4. I am in love with ‘Rattlesnake’ pole bean, a beautiful and delicious heirloom that I inherited from my friend Margaret at AwaytoGarden.com. The beans come on fast and grow large quickly, yet I’ve been able to snack on them raw despite their size. Oh dear. ‘Trionfo Violetto’ has got some work ahead if it is going to hold onto its title as my go-to pole bean favourite.
Assorted and Sundry
Again I am posting last week’s herbaria late. Tomatoes made their mark for a second week, especially since I am now bringing in harvests that are large enough to be preserved. For the first year ever we have had overlap and are still eating jars from last year’s mega crop!
Zucchinis are the other standout in the garden. I was late getting started so my crop is well behind for this time of year, but we have enjoyed a handful of fruit from a compact, early variety called ‘Astia’ that is not shown here.
The week was marked by the first serious spurt of larger tomatoes. I have started weighing them now as I generally don’t weigh the cherry or currant varieties unless I am bringing in a big glut all at once. It looks like it will be a good year, but I don’t expect to beat 2011′s total of over 100 lbs of ripe fruit (plus several more green). Some of my plants have sustained irreparable damage this year due to pests and others are showing signs of blight due to the high humidity. I also think that the very high night temperatures we’ve experienced off and on has contributed to some flower drop. Oh well, 100 lbs lead to more canning sessions than I have time for this year so it could be a blessing in disguise. We still have uneaten jars left over from last year!!
Once again work deadlines have pushed last week’s Herbaria into this week. Still, I was sure to take the photograph last week — it just took me until this week to do the write-up.
This collection marks the 8th box that I have done so far. I figured it was high time to write up an F.A.Q for those who were not around for box #1. You’ll it at the end of this post.
Tomatoes dominated my attention last week. We enjoyed our first two varieties, and I was sure to document the occasion by adding them to the box. Each week I take care to choose plants that stand out in the garden or that have a short lifespan and will not be around by the next week. While my garden may be small, I have packed it full of so many things that it isn’t easy to keep track and I find as the weeks go on I have to refer back to old boxes to be sure that I wasn’t repeating myself or missing something important. I am now finding that despite my diligence some things have fallen through the cracks. My blueberry harvest is one example. The bushes were full of fruit just a few weeks ago, but I have since missed their season. Here’s hoping I don’t miss anything else of importance moving forward.