Grow an 18 foot Tomato That’s 7 feet Tall!
You all know that I prefer to remove “suckers” from tomato vines and train them as a single stem. Someone asked me if I had ever heard of removing the larger suckers and planting them in order to generate a second crop in late summer. I’ve discovered an even better way to start a second crop of tomatoes at the end of the summer.
With the single stem system often the plants get too high to handle conveniently. Tomato plants can grow 30 feet tall! The solution is to select a new sucker that is growing from the lower parts of the plant, but instead of clipping it off and planting it by itself, you let it start to grow, still attached to the main stem. Once your main plant is too high to reach you can “top it off” by trimming all new growth. This will let the existing fruits grow and continue to ripen while the sucker from below starts to grow. You can then start training it up the main pole.
Once the original plant has finished with all its fruit, you can cut it away completely. This system has the advantage of starting a new plant for late summer and early fall harvest, but the new section has a mature root system from the start. The results are a much larger second harvest in much less time.
Another advanced tomato tip involves a different type of cracking in tomatoes called “sun scald.” As the fruits ripen they can expand in the hot sun, causing them to crack and then heal over. A solution is to keep a few properly placed suckers growing and use them as sun umbrellas. They’ll shade the fruits and keep them from splitting. Just make sure to trim off any fruiting branches or new branches from your “umbrella sucker.”
Finally, harvest the fruits at the most appealing ripeness stage — up to dead red ripe. Tomato flavor is best at room temperature, but ripe fruit may be held at 45° to 50°F for 7 to 10 days. Follow these tips and your tomatoes will be the envy of the neighborhood!