Posted: June 19, 2012
Here are a few practices to consider as spring comes to an end and summer takes over. Should you stake and tie up the plants or let them grow on the ground? There are advantages to both systems. An indeterminate variety needs to be staked and tied. A determinate or bush type variety can be grown either way.
If you choose to stake and tie the plants, you should also prune out the lower 4 or 5 suckers. The suckers are the shoots that emerge where the leaves are attached to the stem. Try to remove the suckers while they are still small, 2”- 3” long. Suckering results in larger and earlier fruit, but reduces the overall yield from that plant. Put the stakes in shortly after planting before the root system starts to spread. Tie the plants early and often as they grow. Avoid damaging the stems by tying them too tightly. Use string that is relatively wide.
Tomatoes need a moderate amount of nitrogen, a moderate amount of phosphorus, and a large amount of potassium. Potassium is used by the plant to regulate water absorption and is critical to development of a deep red color. If your soil is short on potassium, you can add wood ashes, a high potassium fertilizer, manure, or compost to get it to a level where it needs to be. The third number on a fertilizer bag label tells you what percentage of that fertilizer is potassium. A soil test will tell you if your soil’s nutrient levels are sufficient.
Colorado potato beetles love to feed on tomato, potato, and eggplant leaves. Eggplant is their favorite food. The larvae are now hatching so watch your plants closely. If you catch them early, you can pick off the beetles before much feeding damage occurs.
For more information contact your local extension office. In Lackawanna County call 570-963-6842 or email LackawannaMG@psu.edu
John Esslinger, Extension Educator
Penn State Extension