It’s too late to be planting tomatoes — but if you do have a row of tomatoes in your back yard, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has some midseason advice for keeping them pest-free and juicy.
As the plants grow, remove all the lower leaves from the bottom 12 inches of stem. This helps prevent rain transfer of diseases from soil to foliage.
— Another way to prevent that soil-to-plant disease transfer is to keep individual plants well-mulched. A 2-inch layer of straw works well.
— Tomatoes like consistent water — it helps prevent blossom end rot, a common problem — so make sure you’re watering on a regular basis without making the soil soggy. If soil feels dry about an inch under soil’s surface, it’s time to water.
— Consider removing “suckers,” branches that sprout at the fork of the main stem and larger, secondary branches. First, determine whether your tomatoes are determinate (compact and bushlike) or indeterminate (tall vines that bear fruit all season long).
Determinate: Remove suckers if you wish, but it’s not as important to do so. It’s enough to remove suckers and branches from the plant’s bottom up to the first fruiting branch.
Indeterminate: If you want larger tomato quantities, leave most of the suckers and just make sure you’re providing enough water, fertilizer and support. If you’d rather have larger tomatoes, prune the majority of suckers and definitely all from the plant’s bottom up to the second fruiting branch. This allows more energy to go toward tomato growth.
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