Grant, Jasper and I spent the morning cleaning up the garden and spreading some of our cooked compost (that’s what I call it when it’s all finished breaking down and ready to be used). I tried to take a few pictures, but it’s so humid outside that they all turned out pretty hazy. I’ll refrain from any more comments about the weather because I feel like that’s about the only conversation I’ve had with people over the last week.
While the boys spread/threw the compost, I worked on weeding and pruning. When I first started gardening, I thought that you just planted seeds, weeded a bit and watered throughout the season and then harvested all the fruits and veggies as they were ready. I didn’t think I was needed much in between the planting and the harvesting. I really gave little thought to “feeding” the plants (which we do with our compost and with worm casings from our worm bins) and even less thought to pruning the plants to help them be more productive. Then at some point, I watched someone pinching off the suckers from their tomato plants and realized that I still had (have) a ton to learn.
I’ve found over time that pruning my plants seems to produce more tomatoes and for a longer period of time. But I still have a hard time pruning back my tomato plants. They look so leggy and sad after I’ve finished pruning them, and I just feel like I’m tossing away all of that work the plants have put into producing all of those stems and leaves. I found a helpful video that explains the pruning technique and benefits that I thought some of you other gardeners out there might find useful:
A few of my novice pruning tips:
- Start “pinching off” the suckers (the stems that grow between the “y” of the larger stems of the plant) when the plants get to be about 12-18 inches tall. Continue pruning throughout the rest of the season to keep the plant from wasting energy on stems and leaves instead of fruit production.
- Pruning is an ongoing task and one that you must keep on top of in order for it to work properly. If you prune too much too late in the season, the plant will go into shock (speaking from experience here) and likely won’t recover.
- I just use my thumb and forefinger for pinching off the suckers, but I like to use a pair of scissors that I’ve designated for the garden for pruning the larger stems because I’m less likely to cause splits and other damage to the plant.