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When you harvest the fruit on a single cluster stem, are you supposed to prune it off? I have an indeterminate tomato plant (my first tomato plant ever) and it’s got a good crop on it. It didn’t produce too much in the summer so I cut it back in October. The weather stayed hot longer than I anticipated, it’s got a bunch of fruit growing in nicely, easily triple what grew the first time around. I have been keeping up with pruning suckers but I’m not sure if I should be removing spent clusters as well.

When you harvest the fruit on a single cluster stem, are you supposed to prune it off? I have an indeterminate tomato plant (my first tomato plant ever) and it’s got a good crop on it. It didn’t produce too much in the summer so I cut it back in October. The weather stayed hot longer than I anticipated, it’s got a bunch of fruit growing in nicely, easily triple what grew the first time around. I have been keeping up with pruning suckers but I’m not sure if I should be removing spent clusters as well.

5 comments

[–] RikkiTikkiTavi 10 points (+10|-0)

Congratulations on your first good tomato harvest to come.

Yes, remove the spent clusters. They are just empty of fruit at this point however they may have trace amounts of what a ripe fruit produces, which will slow down your yields.

Tomatoes are very temperature sensitive to setting fruit. If it is too hot they will not set fruit. Same with too cold. They really just want it warm, but not too warm. They love lots of sun. They want water, but they want it consistent. Too much will cause developing fruit to crack. A good idea is to heavily mulch around the plant.

They will set more fruit if they have more calcium. You can dig in some bone meal around the roots but some of my friends water with a little milk added (rinsing out the milk container).

[–] GelatinousRube 4 points (+4|-0)

I've heard some people say that at the end of the season you should stop watering or go really lightly all together. Have you heard that?

Thanks for the answer about the spent stems. I didn't know.

[–] boogerita [OP] 3 points (+3|-0)

Thank you! Yeah I didn’t know to remove them and I think that combined with the very hot, dry summer, and my couple of days of late watering during the hottest time of day made it stall. I kept it in a place where it was shaded for most of the afternoon, but it still seemed to stall.

I also use my empty milk jugs to water or the rinse water from the coffee pot. I feed every 2 weeks with a fish emulsion fertilizer (2-3-1) because it has I think 5 main stems producing. I will definitely get on mulching. Thank you!

[–] RikkiTikkiTavi 5 points (+5|-0)

So much about success with tomatoes depends on where in the world you are growing them. In some areas you just pull all the plants up at the end of the season and start the next season with new plants. That would especially be true if you live in a place where the summers are long and hot. No sense trying to nurse a plant through that.

Places with more reasonable summers may be able to get a plant through into fall production. Some places with reasonable winters can get a plant through to spring.

However a word of caution about letting plants linger - one year my fall tomatoes were not very productive and I was lazy and did not remove them. They made a huge winter/early spring crop - really big - but then because they had been in the ground for so long I had the absolute worst blight ever that late spring.

So, probably best to start fresh each season. Let the soil rest if you plant in ground. Ideally you would rotate crops to avoid disease - but if you are like me there are only so many places you have the best sun for things like tomatoes. I switched to large (20 gallon) cloth bags which are great for controlling water/ground borne diseases. I change out the soil each season (sort of like crop rotation - but the plants stay in the same sunny areas).

Some other tips for tomatoes is to plant them deep. They grow roots on whatever part is under the soil. Add bone meal when you plant the plants. Use thick mulch, like hay or straw. Water consistently. Check the plants daily for pests (I do organic and pest control is by hand). If you have the room, plant several varieties that are rated well for you area. You never know what slight changes in a season will favor one plant versus another. When possible, choose varieties that are disease resistant.

Pick your crop early if you have problems with birds - as soon as the fruit begins to ripen. Birds will peck and ruin tomatoes and they will remember to come back for more.

I use a lot of compost with my plants. I typically get huge yields (120 lbs of fruit or more from 6 plants). I make lots of tomato soup, eat lots of fresh tomato, and give away bunches of fruit to neighbors and friends. I can also have really bad years of blight - horrible problems with stink bugs - infuriating issues with rats and mice. We are subject to the hands of fate if we grow tomatoes.

Tomatoes are loads of fun to grow. If you get even a single fruit to harvest you have a wonderful feast that cannot be duplicated from store purchased fruit (exceptions for heirloom and farmers market fruit).

[–] boogerita [OP] 2 points (+2|-0)

The first go around, I had problems with early blight because I didn’t trim the lower leaves but it’s not happening again. I only have this one tomato plant and it’s in a 20” tall planter right now. Two others didn’t make it to the fall because some type of critter chomped them down to stumps. I have to grow in pots because there’s so many critters where I am. I tied reflective tape to my cages to keep away birds, but it didn’t stop the ground rodents. For the heat, I think I’ll just do better about shading from earlier afternoon sun since it can get pretty brutal. I built a raised structure to keep my planters off the ground so I’ll probably be posting here often for advice!