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Tomatoes Plants Have Crotches

August 7, 2012

I know little about growing vegetables and I’m not afraid to say it. I will even shout it from a mountain top. What I do know is that one must sow seeds according to the instructions on the seed package and the zone in which you live, water the plants, remove weeds and mulch to help prevent weeds from sprouting which also helps to keep the soil moist. Seems simple enough, but there is more to it.

For the past few weeks, maintaining the greenhouse has been my responsibility. It’s fun stuff, seriously. Watering and watching plants grow has become one of my favourite pastimes.

This is the greenhouse in mid July. See the window in the background?

This is the greenhouse today. The window can barely be seen. You would think that all this growth is amazing, I sure did.

I thought I was doing a great thing by watering the tomato plants, which I was, but I didn’t realize that at times they need pruning. It wasn’t until my amazing friends, Adrienne and Steph, came for a visit (and also know WAY more about plants than I do) and told me about a little thing called a sucker.

This is a sucker and it really sucks. They grow in the crotch of tomato plants. That’s right, tomato plants have crotches. And in those crotches, suckers grow. These suckers must be removed. If they aren’t, then you will experience complete and utter chaos, which can be seen below.

Not an ideal situation here.

Tomato suckers are side shoots that, if left unpruned, will eventually become another main stem with branches, flowers, fruit, and even more suckers. Though suckers lead to more fruit, they also compete for nutrients with the original plant giving you smaller fruit and a chaotic plant. Do not go overboard and remove all the suckers because this can lessen your yield.

Tomatoes are categorized as either determinate or indeterminate. The latter are “vining” tomatoes that can grow up to 10′ tall and produce tomatoes all season. Growers, myself excluded, do not let their tomatoes vine because the plants become heavy and out of control. Yup. I seem to be learning things the hard way, but I am learning nonetheless.

I must give credit where it’s due, you can read more about suckers here, where I got much of my information.

Happy Gardening!

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