One of you brought to my attention that I mentioned pruning tomato suckers off my tomato plants in my Garden Update #1 post, but I failed to explain what suckers are, and how/why to prune them off. Please forgive me, I am here today to rectify that folly. And give y’all some more tomato growing tips.
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WHAT Are Tomato Suckers?
Tomato suckers are shoots that sprout out of the fork in a branch. They are relatively harmless, and can even produce fruit, but in general they do more harm than good.
WHY Do You Want To Remove Them?
They suck energy from the main stem and decrease over all tomato growth, so it is best to prune them off.
HOW Do You Remove Them?
If you find them when they are smaller you can easily pinch them off with your fingers. If they get bigger you might want to use a pair of pruning shears. These suckers (pun intended) can sprout up overnight, so I look over my plants daily for these.
Other Tomato Plant Success Tips:
Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow in North Texas. They really just need water, sunshine, and a little maintenance. Below are a few tips I have for helping you get the best yield from your tomato plants this summer.
Pruning Low Branches-
My whole life when my dad and I grew tomatoes we never really pruned them (aside from removing suckers), we just kind of let them go. This year I pruned off all of the branches below the lowest blossoms. MEANING I cut off the branches below the branch the lowest blossoms were growing on/from. This reduced the amount of leaves the plant has to provide energy to. “But these leaves help with photosynthesis,” you might say, true, but these branches of which I speak are low and mostly covered by the growing plant, so they were not really pulling their weight so to speak. I simply used some gardening shears to lop off those low branches.
Epsom Salt Spray-
Giving your tomato plants a dose of Magnesium Sulfate will increase the plants’ yield, strength and overall health. A readily available source is Epsom Salt!
Simply add 1 tsp of Epsom Salt to 4 cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray the blossoms and leaves of your tomato plants with the mixture. Repeat once a month.
This fertilizer is also good for pepper plants and roses.
Blossom end rot is often caused by a lack of calcium; eggshells are a great source of calcium and using them as a fertilizer is a brilliant way to compost/recycle natural waste.
To make this super easy fertilizer you only need eggshells, and a spice grinder. Grind them up and set them aside. I store mine in an empty Classico jar I had fetched from my recycle bin.
To Use: Sprinkle ¼ cup of the powered eggshells around the main stalk. Repeat once each month.
*Be careful not to breath in the eggshell dust – it is not good for your lungs.*
(Note: You could crush up the eggshells in a bag, but really you want them to be basically powdered so that they have more surface area.)
Tomato plants need potassium too. You can buy potassium fertilizers (potash), but you can also make your own. All you need is a glass with a lid, a banana peel, and some water.
Simply put the peel into the jar, fill the jar with water, then screw the lid on. Leave it soaking for two to three days; after that remove the peels and put them in the compost.
Dilute 1 cup of banana tea in 1 gallon of water and then give your plants a drink. Repeat every two or three weeks.
-We have had a very rainy spring in North Texas, so I am behind on using my banana tea, but I will be using it during our hot dry summer.
-I store unused tea in the jar in my refrigerator until I need it again.
I wrote a whole post about banana tea and its benefits. If you are interested in learning more about it, check out that post here.
I can be a big nerd sometimes. Case in point, I have a notebook prepared to record the number of tomatoes I harvest this year, how many each plant yields, and their weights (to be added up to see how many total pounds of tomatoes I harvest this year). Like I said, big nerd! And I can’t wait to share all that information with y’all when all is said and done on the tomato front.
Do you have any other tomato tips? If so please post them in a comment, I’d love to glean any tips you have for me.