Senin, 27 Juni 2011

How my garden grows - Natural abilities are like natural plants; they need pruning by study

Generally speaking, when it comes to our vegetable garden I prefer to let Mother Nature take her course.  After all, she’s been growing plants a lot longer than I have.  The exception being that we put up a trellis for our pea plants to climb and put in cages to support our tomato plants.  Of course, I weed and water and fertilize regularly to help ol’ Mom out.

However, when our tomato plants started to blossom while also looking a bit spindly and straggly, we decided to take a more hands-on approach.

Many of the “experts” advice that I’ve read say that if a healthy plant is between 1.5 and 2 feet tall that you should let the plants flower and begin to set fruit.  They say that the first fruit to form is always the largest and earliest. And that your yield will be better if you let them produce.

Our plants fit right into the 1.5 and 2 feet tall category except that they’re not looking all that happy.   
Experts also say that sickly plants should be given the opportunity to get healthy before allowing them to begin the sexual cycle.  This can be done by pinching off the first blossoms to allow all the nutrients to flow into the growth of the plant.  Obviously, we don't want our plant’s energy going into making fruit before energy has been devoted solely to forming strong stems and healthy foliage.  In my opinion, a larger more robust plant can better support the fruits to come.

All of our plants had one tier of flowers . . . one even had a tiny green tomato . . .  so I pinched off the blossoms on each of them.  By doing this, all the nutrients that would have been directed to the production of tomatoes will go back into the plant and help it to grow big and strong. 

Some other worthwhile advice is to prune the lowest leaves off the plant . . . those that are touching the ground or within a few inches of the ground.  This will prevent them from touching the ground and coming in contact with pests and diseases that may infect the plant.

I also gently move growing stems up and out of the cage to maximize sunlight exposure, air circulation and  provide maximum support for the growing plant



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