Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tomato Pruning + Experiment

Last Tuesday the 23rd, it came to my attention that I had some seriously overgrown container tomato plants. Now these weren't your regular tomato plants. Oh no, these were Burpee's top-of-the-line, hybrid, seedless, sugar-sweet tomato plants. They cost $5 for a 10 pack of seeds and come with a disclaimer saying that it is illegal to sell plants of this variety. I know what you're thinking. A hybrid? Seedless? Yes, yes, it's true. And to that I say, how can you deny the claim of the sweetest tomato ever? And no I don't like agri-business mono-culturing species in developing countries. But I have seven heirlooms in my garden. Plus, my dad gave me the seeds, a father/son thing. So give me a break.

A couple months ago, I was reading on Mother Earth News about tomato pruning. I had always known to remove the sucker growth. What I didn't know is that the sucker growth is a great source for tomato clones/cuttings. At that time, I felt it almost absurd to take cuttings of a plant so affordable. Then, the next week my dad gave me these seeds with the price tag still on them. $4.95, and enclosed were only 10 seeds. Huh? All of a sudden seeds were expensive. I couldn't over/under water the sprouts, let em die, and then do over next week with more or less water. Working with these seeds was for all the marbles, no wiggle room. Luckily, I was able to get six out of six to germinate. In the meantime, I thought back to that article in Mother Earth News. Eventually, coming to the conclusion that I should try to take cuttings of this super tomato.

The photos are of the before and after tomato pruning of the whole plants, close-ups of the plants with and without sucker growth, the cuttings immediately after being pinched and placed in the growing medium, and the cuttings a day after being pruned.

I took 12 separate cuttings and simply placed them in porous growing dirt. I tried both plastic containers and peet pots. Now this whole thing is somewhat of an experiment; however, I also added mycorrhizal fungi half the cuttings just because I had some mycorrhizal fungi on hand and because I wanted to see what would happen. Tomorrow, I'll be checking on the development of the tomato cuttings and reporting promptly.

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