Week 12 Cutting Sucker Branches from Roma Tomato Plants

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Week 9 Baby Tomatoes 10 12 2013


Our Roma Tomato Plants are growing so fast and the baby Tomatoes are getting larger too.  Are you keeping the soil wet?  I hope so, because if you let the soil dry, you won’t be able to tell how it will affect the tomatoes until they are ripe and you cut into them…they will have a good skin on the outside, but then the center may be hollow and dried out.

In the heat of the summer, it’s best to leave the drip irrigation on all night and then turn off in the morning.  Later as the day heats up turn the drip irrigation back on and leave on all night.  The tomato plants don’t like to have soggy soil, but with drip irrigation the soil will stay wet.  If you are watering by hand…in the heat of the day, give them a good soaking, and check in the morning to see if they need a little more to get them through the day.

sucker branchThis week, we are cutting off the sucker branches and the low leaves.  It’s best to do this in the cool early morning, so the tomato plant has the remainder of the day to recover, saving it’s strength for the hot afternoon.  If you do this in the evening, you will weaken the tomato plant. It used all its strength in the hot afternoon and needs to recover, get a good night’s rest so it will be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning.

The tomato plant grows sucker branches right at the joining of the leaf branch to the stem.  These will drain nutrients from the main plant.  Your tomato plant will give you enough delicious tomatoes from the main plant, so don’t worry about cutting off the sucker branches.  If you already have baby tomatoes, and you leave the sucker branches, the tomato plant needs to send nutrients to the sucker branches so they will grow.  This is taking the nutrients from your baby tomatoes.  As your tomato plant grows tall, it will continue to blossom and as the nutrients move up the stem, your baby tomatoes will receive their nutrition before the top of the plant.

cutting topIf you are wanting to cap off your plant if you are covering with the hoop and plastic design, or your plant is getting too tall, you can pinch off the top of the plant in the center where you see the plant growing.  Pinch down to a joint, or the bottom of the ‘V’ shape.

This will also cause the tomato plant to grow more branches instead of growing the main plant taller and will bush the plant out more.

Week 12 Clipped Sucker branches & fed Seaweed 11 2 2013After you have finished trimming your tomato plants, make sure you pick up all of the cuttings and put them in your compost bin.  You do not want to leave the cuttings in your tomato garden or in the walkway.  You always want your tomato bed to be clean and this will prevent diseases from forming around the base of your tomato plant.  It also looks so nice and tidy.

Trail in leafContinue to pinch off any leaves that have veins from pests, or that look diseased.  Your tomato plant will have plenty of good leaves to keep it healthy.

You may notice that some of your leaves are being eaten by something….this little shy guy is a Tomato Hornworm…he’s a very destructive worm.  He’s shy and can really hide well.  You might notice little black droppings on the leaves along with the jagged edges of the eaten leaves.  If you are lucky and you follow the droppings, you might catch him in the day.  Feed him to your chickens as a treat, or if you don’t have chickens, make sure you get rid of him.  In a later video, we’ll go Snipe (Hornworm) Hunting at night.

seaweed feedingAfter you are finished with your tomato plants for the day, you will want to give them a boost of nutrition.  I use a Seaweed and water mixture, and pour a plastic cup full at each of the tomato plant stem base.  The seaweed solution will soak into the ground and will feed the tomato plants.  Then in the afternoon I will turn on the drip irrigation.

Here’s this week’s video on how I cut the sucker branches from the tomato plants….

Next week we’ll be feeding Potassium to our Roma Tomato Plants…so eat lots of bananas and save the peels!

Get all those sucker branches off your tomato plants,
Ramona Werst
Your BackYard Genie