Horticulture Q and A from the Mojave Desert
I am looking for information on care of tomato plants, now that they are not pro ducting anymore. do we pull them up and plant new or trim them?
Your comment has reminded me that this is a good topic for a post. I will work on that this week. There are two ways to approach the fall production of tomatoes. The first method is to use existing tomatoes and cut them back. This will work if you cut them back correctly. If you indiscriminately whack them back then you will probably lose them. The cuts must be made to decrease the size of the plant, stimulate new growth but you must leave places for the regrowth to occur when you are finished cutting. This will be in the axles or crotches of leaves.The second way is to start new plants from seed. July is the time for planting the seed of tomato to produce of fall crop. On the seed packet it will tell you how many days to harvest. This is the correct number of days when beginning plants from spring but you should add a few days to this number when planting for the fall. Our focus is to have them begin flowering in mid-September. Take the number of days to flower and add to five days. Count backwards from mid-September this number of days. This is the date we want germination to occur. Subtract one more week from this date and this is our planting date.You can plant the seed directly into the garden and move them into their spot as soon as they produce their first true leaves (the leaves that look like miniature tomato leaves). The biggest problem when planting during this heat is keeping the seed moist so that germination is quick. Soak the seed overnight before planting. This will speed germination. After planting in the garden, covered the seed likely with enough mulch to shade the surface of the soil or use shade cloth until germination.