Mid-summer Tomato Plant Chores

Pruning Suckers

Mid-Summer Tomato Plant Chores

A mid-summer tomato plant needs attention even though the tomatoes are still green. Suckers like to grow out between the main stem and branches at a 45-degree angle, so they are easy to spot. Suckers will not harm the plant, but they can make the tomato get too big for the space.

Therefore, I try to check for suckers on a weekly basis. It is best to pinch back the suckers when they are relatively short. Sometimes the suckers escape my notice. So, a mid-summer task is to spend one entire morning trimming back the tomatoes, both suckers and lower branches where leaves are fading.

Any suckers that have escaped my notice and are longer than an inch or two are carefully evaluated. If they already show signs of budding flowers they are left alone. Otherwise, I use clippers. The longer suckers don’t pinch easily and thus clipping causes less damage to the plant. Attempting to pinch a long sucker often strips the stem.

Small suckers are perfect for pinching.
Mid-summer tomato plant suckers at a 45-degree angle.
Suckers grow at a 45-degree angle.
Small suckers can be pinched by hand.

Recycling in the Garden

This year I have been focused on organization and decluttering. During my purging of unneeded items re: Lose the Clutter Lose the Weight, I discovered some bendable hair curlers in the girls’ bathroom. Instead of trashing them, I put them with the garden supplies.

Now they are part of the mid-summer tomato plant patch. Branching stems need to be tied to the supports to keep the tomato plant upright. This keeps air circulating around the plant deterring diseases and attracting beneficial insects. Furthermore, gardeners in a hurry don’t step (or trip) on ripening fruit.

Curlers.
Using recycled hair curlers in the garden.
Bendable curler training branch to a support.
New use is perfect for recycling objects that would otherwise be tossed.

Mid-Summer Tomato Plant Chores

After tying the plants and pinching or clipping suckers, it is time to add a little compost at the base of each tomato plant. I use either homemade compost or a commercial mushroom compost mid-summer on my heavy feeders. Tomatoes qualify as a heavy feeder. I just spread a fistful about two inches away from the plant base and water in.

Clippings without signs of disease can be added back into the compost. The whole process takes me the better part of a morning. It is quite satisfying restoring order to the tomato row.

Mid-summer tomato plant out of control.
Mid-summer tomato plant out of control.

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