The Q&A Archives: Exceptional Tomatoes

Question: This year I planted 22 tomato plants(assorted varieties including Burpee's Big Girl, Beefmaster, Juliet, Marglobe, etc. My mature garden was well fertilized and had a topcote of mushroom soil before planting. I planted each plant(some purchased as plants some started from seeds in the house)2' apart, each in a separate 2x2 tomatoe cage on May 1.I sprayed the garden on three occasions with Miracle-Gro- two weeks apart after planting. I water each morning(if it hasn't rained) for 20 minutes. As of today(July 1) I have the wildest growth of tomatoes and plants I have ever seem. It looks like a jungle with the plants all grown together and most 7-8' high. All have an abundance of substantial, healthy looking green tomates. Some of the early ones have actually begun to turn red. However, the garden is seriously overgrown and I fear that harvest may be difficult and that the foliage is so thick that adequate sunlight will not reach the inside fruits so they may ripen. HELP ! Shall I prune some of the foliage back or should I just sit back and have the most incredible tomato crop in history?

Answer: We should all have such a problem! My main concern is lack of sunlight reaching the fruit so that they ripen slowly, and also the risk of fungal diseases due to poor air circulation, especially as the weather heats up. I think I would thin out some branches to increase the light and air, and you could nip the tops of the vines to control height if you think they are just too big. Since it is so crowded, be very careful to avoid wetting the foliage when you water and do not handle the plants when they are wet from rain or dew. Enjoy those tomatoes!

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