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Planting and Training Tomatoes

Can’t wait for that first red ripe tomato? Or maybe you want an abundant harvest. Select the training method that helps you meet your gardening goals.

Allow tomatoes to sprawl across the ground for the largest, though latest harvest.  Unfortunately, many of the tomatoes are lost to disease, insects, and gardeners' feet when weeding and harvesting.

Or place a tower over the tomatoes at planting. They’ll produce fewer fruit that will ripen sooner. Plus, you’ll have fewer disease and insect problems.

Staking requires a little more work, produces fewer fruit, but you’ll have fewer disease problems and the earliest harvest.  Place the stake in the ground at planting. As the plants begin to grow, prune off all side branches, often called suckers, that form between the stem and leaf. Loosely tie the remaining one or two stems to the stake. Continue throughout the season.

A bit more information: Be the first on your block to harvest a red ripe tomato. Grow an early ripening variety like Early Girl or Fourth of July and train it on a stake. Further shorten the time to harvest by jump starting the season with row covers, cloches or cold frames.

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