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Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Posted by thadius856 9 (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 20:50

I havr a lot of tomatoes planted right now. Just finishing up the cages tpday, and will start pruning tonight. Can't seem to figure out how many stems to prune to, if even at all, in my case.

I planted indeterminated 18 inches apart in two rows separated by 18 inches. Two beds like this. Putting up wood cages 7' tall with crossmembers every 18" if memory serves (crossmembers not yet pictured).

Should I limit to one stem, two, three, or four stems in my situation? Not prune at all? Fruit will be picked with a 8' ladder if needed, so thats not a concern.

Picture attached.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

I don't know if it is just me or not but I see no picture, I would think you have your tomatoes to close together mine are about 24 - 30 inches apart, I also only prune the bottom branches off from the ground up to about 12 inches and usually most all suckers but I do miss some which is no problem.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 22:22

Planted that close together you will have to prune them to one or 2 stems max. Why would you plant them so close together or let them grow that tall? Is your planting space severely limited?

You are going to lose a lot of potential production. So if space is severely limited maybe it is one of those situations where planting less plants with better spacing and less pruning will get you lots more tomatoes than more plants over-crowded and heavily pruned will.

All my tomatoes are planted on 30-36" centers depending on variety and if they are determinate or indeterminate in 6' tall CRW cages and like jimmy above, only lower branches that drag on the soil are removed.

Dave


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

  • Posted by qaguy Sunset 21/LosAngeles (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 22:52

That's pretty close together as Dave said. I grow mine in
PVC cages about 36" from each other. My cages have
4 upright pieces and I prune to 4 main leaders. Works for
me just fine.

Tomatoes 1 photo Overall1_zps48a7c4f7.jpg
Yours are much closer than mine are. You must really
be pressed for space.

I'll go along with Dave on this one. One or 2 leaders at
the most. Otherwise, you might have sun and air deficiencies.
Plus you may never find your tomatoes in the jungle you'll
probably end up with.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

I use 2"x4" welded wire to make cages. 50' is about 45.00 and for me makes 8 cages. Need to cut holes to harvest


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

18" apart ?
%%%%%%%%%%%%%

With 18" spacing, you cannot keep a lot of stems. I would say 2-3 is max (1 main, 2 branch out). That is What and how I plant and do, due to shortage of spot. But I stake mine, mostly, because cage with that kind of spacing gets in the way and becomes crowded. Anyway, squeezing more plants in, requires a lot of maintenance (pruning, staking, tying ) as opposed spacing, say 30" and using a 24" dia. cage.

You have

This post was edited by seysonn on Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 9:34


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Since you have 18 in spacing It would be best to prune to 2 stems . Tomato plants need more spacing . at least 36 in. and some varieties 4 ft. is better . If it were me I would pull up every other one. At 18 in. you have a high risk of fungus and disease , especially Septoria .Tomato plants need morning sun and need room to breathe so they will dry out early after mourning dew or rain. At 36 in. with 3 or four stems you'll get more production from half the plants . Good Luck . Happy Growing !


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Thanks for the tips, all. Sorry the last picture didn't show.

We're not super worried about output because theres only 3 of us, and we'll likely have to give away most of it anyway. We just happened upon a 77 cent tomato sale and it being our first year, we decided to try sq ft gardening. Next year, definitely more space.

Don't know that I have the heart to pull up the wife's hard work. We're mainly interested in getting a feel for this, I'm testing her gardening resolve a bit (she jumps hobby to hobby), and we wanted to try out a wide variety of cultivars.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 15:50

We just happened upon a 77 cent tomato sale...and we wanted to try out a wide variety of cultivars.

Ah, that explains it. You'll learn many things this year. Some good and some bad but don't get discouraged.

Good looking trellis system but honestly it doesn't have to be that tall. Be careful climbing that ladder. :)

Dave


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Lets say that you have a row 72" long.
Some here are saying that you should plant JUST 2 plant. But with 18" spacing you have planted FOUR(4). I think, if you do a good efficient pruning, you can get more fruits from 4 plants that 2 left to grow without pruning.

it is your garden and your choice.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Read first, don't cut first. Pruning cuts production.

I think that before you start pruning it would be wise to take 10 minutes and read what different people have to say, there is probably more posts on tomato pruning than you could read in 24 hours let alone 10 minutes, but what that should tell you is there is a lot of different opinion out there.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

  • Posted by ZachS z5 Littleton, CO (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 10:52

Since you seem to have several plants, why not prune some and leave the others (or prune them less)? See which way works out best. It will give you some idea on what to do next year. I am constantly experimenting to see what works and what doesn't.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

I have always caged my indeterminates with no pruning and on 36" spacing. I would get 9 - 10 plants per row this way.
This year, for the first time, I am planting them about 24" on center, and will be pruning to two or three stems and they will be climbing up 7 feet of Jut twine. I am now getting 13 - 14 plants per row. That means I am getting 30% more plants in the same space. So, if the plants produce anything more than 30% less than a non pruned plant, the production will be the same or more.
I am mainly trying to get more airflow, as my cages would just get so full of foliage. These were 18" cages too.
Time will tell.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

I have 22" cages and give them 4 inches between, closer get diseases, further doesn't seem to help much.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Yardenman,
A 26" spacing is plenty, even if you do not prune.

Most space requirement is just to accommodate top growth, not the roots requirement. It also served GARDENER'S CONVINIENCE. that combined with a big cage, the gardener has much less work to do. But say wit 18" spacing, one has to do a lot of pruning and tying.

We all express our views here. In my opinion, a HUGE towering plant, left to grow on its own, does not meant that it will produce HUGE crop. Definitely, if we plant 2 identical plants,, one in 9 sqr-ft and other in 3 sqr-ft., the first will produce more fruits, FOR sure. BUT will it produce 3 times as much of the one planted in 3 sqr-ft ? that is quite debateable and I personally don't believe that it can happen. Twice as much ? maybe. It is an expectable probability.
The bottom line is that if land resource is no an object, by all means space them @ 3 ft., install a 2ft diam. cage and sit back, relax and enjoy your drink:)


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

Am wondering how those requirements change in regards to climate. I can get plants to 7 feet growth but it would be to detriment of production, our summer generally coolish in June and what I get in Sept is a bonus already so couple of flashes indeterminates and we are done. I think spacing and pruning has to be determined on case by case basis with just general suggestions kept in mind.


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RE: Tomatoes in Cages - One, Two, Three or Four Stems?

OP here. Thanks for all the inputs, everybody. :)

We're definitely Zone 9, smack dab in the center of California's Sacramento Valley. Major agriculture everywhere around me -- almonds, walnuts, olives, rice, livestock feed. We have long, hot summers. Jul-Aug-Sep are daily avg highs in the mid-90s every year.

I'm noticing that my wood cages block a bit of sunlight, so I may have to tear down and re-built next year. Also, I need to prune my Mulberry a bit as it blocks the sun in the afternoon. Most of the sun they get is morning sun.

Next year... maybe with the Tormato support, in buckets, in the front yard.

I've gone ahead and pruned everything I could to single stem. I had to keep a couple as two stem because the second stem was already bigger than a pencil and I didn't want to stunts the plants if not necessary.

Still tons of airspace so far. Most are approaching 18" tall at this point.

Here is a link that might be useful: Avg Weather


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