Protecting Fall Tomatoes
Well if you planted tomatoes earlier on this fall like we were talking about I bet you've even got some setting fruit by now. They may even have a little fruit setting on them, and definitely getting big enough to where they will fall over, just plop over if you don't stake them, or tie them, or cage them where they'll stand up.
Of course you don't want to grow your tomatoes on the ground because if the fruit hits the ground it's going to rot. So you've got two choices. You can either put a concrete reinforcing wire cage around them such as we have here and basically you don't even have to prune them or tie them if you do that and they'll produce an abundance of fruit.
Or, if you want larger fruit earlier, you can stake and tie them. This involves just driving a stake by them and tying them up with something. I like to use pantyhose. I don't know why it is. It's kind of kinky I guess and there's always plenty of that around. Just use pantyhose, any brand, I like sheer energy, and cut a little piece off of there and low and behold you've got a perfect tie that's smooth and soft to the tomato. Just tie it around the stick and you'll have it braced up there. You'll have to tie it about every week to ten days.
Now when you are pruning, because you also need to prune it, you leave this sucker, what we call a sucker, a little branch right below the first tomato cluster, and you take the test of them off that come out and then you will have large fruit that will mature early.
This has been Jerry Parsons, Vegetable Specialist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the Weekend Gardener.
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