Fall Pruning/Topping of Tomatoes?

gardenmommy_2010October 1, 2010

So, I got a late start this year and am about to finally get my first ripe tomato (aside from cherry tomatoes). Therefore, I am desperate to keep my other baby tomatoes growing/ripening as the season progresses in order to have at least a couple tomatoes this year.

I've read of other gardeners topping/pruning their tomato plants about this time in the hopes that more energy will be given to the existing fruit on the plants. Most of my tomato plants have between 3-15 baby tomatoes of varying sizes on them. Should I be pruning questionable branches & topping the plants growth in order to help the baby tomatoes along? According to our zone our first frost would mid Nov, so that's just a month & a half of additional growing.

For example, one Celebrity has one stem that's always looked unhealthy & has 3 tomatoes on it that really don't seem to have grown in the past weeks. However, it also has another stem that looks very healthy and has 4 baby tomatoes on it. Would you amputate the questionable stem in the hopes of directing energy to the healthy growth/tomatoes? In our CA growing season, is now the time to be making such judgement calls & taking such actions in order to encourage what babies are on the plants?

Thanks for your advice as I'm new to gardening & just want my home grown tomatoes!

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

The nights are cooling off, so the tomatoes stop growing. YOu could try some red or black plastic sheeting on the soil around the plants (make sure they still get watered) to keep the soil warmer for the next few weeks until frost hits. Soil temperature is a factor as well, not only air temperature.

Green tomatoes will ripen up in the house. When I get sick of mine and pull the plants out, I save the green ones and they ripen. No, they don't taste as good as the vine-ripened ones, but they still taste a lot better than the store-bought, even ripened off the vine.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 3:17AM
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Amputation! Sounds serious! I gotta say, in one month most tomato plants will be toast anyway in Northern CA. I would let them be, but experiment if you like. I am getting paste tomatoes ripening now and a few of the larger beefsteak-type tomatoes, but it hasn't been the best tomato season by any means.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 1:33PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Every year our garden club will sell close to 2000 tomato plants, always more than 20 varieties. To help our buyers choose what they need we have all tomatoes labeled determinate or indeterminate. About six of us spend the day explaining the difference. For all those new gardeners buying their tomato plants at the mass merchandisers, with next to no help, no wonder so many are disappointed with their tomatoes. For this area, this has been the coolest summer, and most disappointing for tomato production, ever. Al

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:43AM
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I do prune mine. I "amputate" dying stems and lower stems that might drag the ground and pick up diseases, and some inner stems if the plant is too bushy. Be sure to leave enough foliage for sun-protection. I think now is probably a good time for a little more pruning since--after this nasty hot spell is over--the sun should not be too fierce.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:32PM
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