Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mulching and pruning tomatoes…

These tomatoes have not been pruned and you can see how close the leaves are to the ground. . . a disease ladder waiting to happen. 


Lots of bushy leaves still touching the ground, but I have at least mulched with grass clippings in this photo.  Mulching your tomatoes is the first defense against soil born diseases and also conserves moisture.  There are many choices when it comes to mulch: leaves, straw, grass, bark or even plastic.  I like to use 3-4 inches of grass clippings.  Please don't store green clippings in a bag.  Trust me, it will smell pretty awful!!  :)  And if you use grass, make sure it hasn’t been treated with an herbicide or other chemicals.

I know it seems SO wrong to remove lush growth.   But if you leave them, all those beautiful lower leaves will become fodder for tomato viruses.  Just go ahead and remove the first 18-24” of leaves and stems, carefully leaving the main stem intact.  You can snap off the unwanted growth, but I find it easier to snip them off with clippers. 


I removed a huge pile of leaves from this row of tomatoes.  It was a lot!!  They have been pruned to create an 18 inch barrier between the ground and its leaves.  As the tomatoes grow taller, I will snip off any leaves that droop or grow closer than 2 feet from the ground. 

We had a very cold spring and even with plastic hoop tunnels, it was too cold to plant tomatoes until mid June!  The temps abruptly jumped into the 90’s at the end of June.  They were quite ‘shocked’ by the sudden warmth after the severe cold and are slowly recovering. . . but we only have about 30-40 frost-free days left, so they’ll have to hurry  :)

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