Its been exactly 49 days since I sowed my vegetable seeds. It seems much longer. But now all the main work is done. My plants, except for some peppers, are all planted in the ground or potted in containers, and now we maintain the garden. Water, weeds and food, that is our concern now. Its the time where it can get dull as we wait for fruit. For my encouragement, my Roma tomatoes are full of tiny, forming blossoms.
I still cannot become nonchalant about the miracle of plants. These tomato plants began so tiny, and the seeds were just dry specks. They sprouted into fragile little tender, leggy and delicate living things, and grew into fragile, temperamental plants. They would wilt and die with the slightest abuse, and had to be carefully hardened off to the weather. Today as I type this, I glance over and a strong breeze is blowing these now-impressive plants, yet they are strong and stand tall on a firm stalk. Two of them withstood being leveled by our dog, who wasn’t supposed to be in the garden but was, and they came right back with vigor. Plants are amazing.
I have a gardening calendar for the first time this year. In the past, I would side-dress my plants with compost or fertilize just as it seemed right. But I have too many types of container plants to trust my memory, so my calendar tells me when to fertilize what. I also have notes and observations about varieties that I put in the calendar, it will help me remember what kind of seeds did well and which ones should be skipped next year.
On tomato plants, you get a better crop and a tidier plant by pruning the tomato. The time to do so is when you begin to see the very first flower clusters. Below that cluster, there will usually be no further flower development, all the fruiting activity will happen further up the plant past the first set of flowers. So any growth beneath the first flower set is growth taking energy, food and resources away from your fruit. You don’t need to grow fruitless stems. Pinch those suckers!
A sucker is the small stem or leaf bud growing out from the crook formed by the trunk and an existing stem. It usually comes in at a forty five degree angle and is really easy to pinch. Just get your fingers on them and pluck it off when it is small. For determinate tomatoes, pinch the suckers beneath the first flower cluster from the bottom. On indeterminate tomatoes, pinch all the suckers from ground level up to the second flower cluster. This will eliminate growth you don’t need. That is the task for the next few days then is for me to casually walk the garden, see which plants are making flower clusters, and to pinch the thieving suckers without mercy.
Have a look at the video, week 7 is in the books: