Pruning and Trellising Tomatoes

Expert How-to; Pruning and Trellising Tomatoes for Success

I have had so many questions concerning pruning and trellising tomatoes that I figured I better add a post and videos. I am trying to get all of the questions answered, but this will at least house that info together in one spot!

Know Your Varieties

To begin, you need to know what kind of tomatoes you have; that is to mean determinate versus indeterminate. There are basic differences in the two types concerning when they produce as well as how they grow. For our purposes, we are going to talk about how they grow.

Pruning and Trellising Tomatoes – Determinate Varieties

How your varieties grow is the most important item to consider when determining the best method for pruning and trellising tomatoes. The determinate varieties (I tend to refer to the as lower growers) don’t require trellising. Some people use tomato cages… but, I can’t stand those. The most that I use for my low growers is the occasional bamboo stake.

Pruning Your Tomatoes

As for pruning determinate varieties, it’s also very basic. It is important to prune any leaves that are touching the ground to keep from spreading disease, fungus, etc. Taking off suckers that grow in the crook between the leaves and the main stem allows your tomatoes’ energy to be put into where it is really needed.

**As a side note here, the suckers that you prune off are actually another plant. You can root them and add to your supply.

Pruning and Trellising Tomatoes – Indeterminate Varieties

So, Determinate tomato varieties are pretty simple. Indeterminate, however, or my high growers, take a little more effort. They are a vining tomato, growing tall and bearing their fruit along the stem.

Trellising Tomatoes

For this variety, you must trellis them. The plants have to be supported. There are a wide variety of ways to trellis or support tomatoes and I’ve tried quite a few. However, I do have my favorite. In the trellising video, I describe the method. Using strong supports at the ends of my rows with additional supports in the center, I use twine to weave through my plants alternating front and back. As they grow, I add more layers of twine. This method has worked best for my needs out of all of the trellising methods that I’ve tried.

Now on to the pruning of the high growers. As always, it is extremely important to make sure that no leaves are on the ground. Apart from that, some basic rules of thumb are good to follow. For one, remove all of the suckers up to the first cluster of blooms. Also thin out some of the leafing branches. It is important that there be airflow through the plants. Therefore, if there are leaves and branches that cross each other, they need to be thinned out.

Prune Based on Your Growing Method

The way that you prune your tomatoes has a lot to do with how you are growing them. I tend to grow a lot in small spaces. The method I use, I like to call ‘Aggressive Companion Planting’. I grow my tomatoes and peppers together, along with various herbs and flowers that specifically assist them. Because of this, I have to make sure that there is room. My peppers are in between my high growers. I am pruning the lower 18″ off of my high growing tomatoes to allow room for my peppers to grow low in between. This is an example of pruning based on your growing method.

There are so many different ways to trellis tomatoes. You just have to find the one that works best for your needs. I welcome input and would love to hear how everyone else supports their tomatoes. And if you have pictures, let us see them!!!

Be sure to check out some of our other gardening posts and projects! And check out A Life on the Farm for the more personal side of our homesteading journey! And don’t forget to go subscribe to the Two Oaks Farmstead Youtube Channel for all kinds of terrific content!!!

Until next time, get your hands dirty and have some fun!

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