How much pruning is too much?

I did some more watching of Craig LeHoullier, and I kept reading that he gets rid of all damaged leaves from his plants. I looked at some of his pictures from his blog, and his plants are looking just a straggly as mine. It was such a relief! It’s not me — it’s just how tomatoes are!

Last week I didn’t spray after the big rainfall as I should have, and I did very little removal of diseased leaves. This week I made up for it and cleared most everything I could. I pruned one Celebrity back so hard (every leaf set was damaged) that I left just one branch of unblemished leaves at the top of the plant. I don’t actually care if it doesn’t do anything else — I’ve gotten a few tomatoes from it — because Celebrity is only an okay flavored tomato to me. I think I may have accidentally topped that plant anyway early in the season which is why it’s so scrawny now. I cut it back, leaving the suckers to sprout up if they will, since they can make more fruit. The roots of the plant are still good, so it has a chance. If it grows, great. If not, I learned something.

Mutilated Celebrity, third from left

This week, the hybrids are really showing their stuff. The Early Girl (both of them) and Better Boy (the healthier one) are looking pretty darn great. This is the time when the disease resistance really shows.

I also cut back the fronds of the asparagus more aggressively to make space for Del’s tomatoes. I don’t usually sucker plants because I want them to grow and have lots of leaves, but I am suckering these since they are staked.

I did learn a few things from looking at the plants I had cut before. Asparagus will grow frond branches back. They look like tiny little asparagus spears but don’t have a lot of flavor. Also, they will come back if cut to the ground. I cut several and will do some more to see if I can get a second crop of asparagus. The real way to get a second crop is never to cut in the first place and then cut later, but I have a ton of stupid healthy asparagus and i can take the risk.

I picked another pint of blackberries. These are destined to become blackberry ice cream:

Yesterday I picked a handful each of Garden of Eden and Roma II, so we did a taste test. I sautéed these in olive oil and threw in water at the end to steam them, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Jared and I both definitely preferred the Garden of Eden … until I tried them with my homemade chive vinegar. Adding the vinegar made a huge flavor kick on Roma II, and not much difference to Garden of Eden. We’d eat either, but Roma II apparently needs a little kick to carry it over to awesome:

Roma II on top, Garden of Eden below
Roma II on left, Garden of Eden on right. We ate up the GOE first, as you can tell.

In flower news, this sunflower also came out yesterday! Sydney is out of town, but I sent her the picture so she could celebrate.

One of the three thinned tomato plants has died. The other two are making little suckers, which I’m taking to mean that they are growing and may survive. I’m keeping them under the bean trellis for shade for at least another week.

I am having so much fun in the garden this year, despite (maybe even because of) all the troubles. How blessed we are to live here!

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About Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I keep up with three cars, two kids, one husband, and I live on 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where we look after an elderly relative. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs as I pursue a graduate degree. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.
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