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Growing indeterminate tomatoes
My wife and I can most of the tomatoes we grow. The rest we give away. I'm looking for a good, blight-resistant, determinate paste tomato (Roma or similar). Yes, indeterminate tomatoes keep on bearing and they keep on growing, sending out suckers from every possible end and joint. I would be happy with a variety that could be contained or was determinate and produced its crop all at once.
To trim or not to trim
I had most of my tomatoes in a hoop house (see the photos) so I wanted to keep the size of the plants in check this 2014 season and limit their spreading out - so I could maintain walkway through the hoop house and so they wouldn't collapse. So I followed two rules:
- Allow only 4 suckers from the main stalk
- Disallow suckers from suckers
I gave the same treatment to tomatoes in two other locations.
Lots of tall plants
First, it was difficult to enforce these rules once the plants got going. And the result was very tall plants. The tall plants had lots of fruit and were still trying to send out suckers from every possible place. But their height exceeded the cages I had and soon the stalks were leaning every which way, some falling over. At the right is a photo of how an indeterminate plant turned out in my home garden. (I trim the limbs that die off - that's the way of indeterminate tomatoes.)
Next season, I will grow only my TPS Golden tomato in the hoop house (along with peppers and eggplant - just for the heck of it). I have added four perlins to one of the sections of the hoop house to allow me to string up these indeterminate fellows and let them climb.
Hoop house mods
I 'll be letting each one reach for the sky, along the string to which it is attached, trimming off lower leaves below a fruit cluster and trimming any suckers. The hoop house isn't tall, so it won't take long for them to reach the top, but I'll see about lowering each down as appropriate and coiling the vine on the ground.
I considered using the red plastic mulch to encourage formation of fruit. This seems complex to me, so I'll need to work out things like watering and weeding in a later season.