Good news! The cherry tomatoes in my yard are starting to ripen. I plucked one off the vine today and tasted it. Yum-O!! The red ‘Sweet 100’ stands up to its name – crisp, sweet and juicy. The ‘Yellow Pear’ looks gorgeous. It has a milder taste and is a little soft on the inside. I am waiting for more tomatoes to ripen so I can make this Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad with my own harvest.
I have been coddling my tomato plants this year. Besides regular water and organic fertilizers, I have also been pruning them. In June and early July, when the plant was still young, I cut off some of the lower leaves to encourage the side shoots (or suckers) to form full-sized branches. I tied these branches to the trellis for support. This kind of pruning works well on cherry tomatoes. However, on larger fruit varieties, encouraging side shoots is not recommended as it will result in smaller fruit.
Anyway, as warmer weather set in, I took the cloche off. When flowers formed and fruit began to set, I cut down on the nitrogen fertilizer. I also cut off new side shoots regularly, just opposite of what I did in the earlier months. This encourages the plant to now focus on producing more flowers and fruit on the existing shoots.
Now, as we move into late summer/fall, I am pinching off all new flowers and cutting back the tips of the plant, encouraging the existing fruit to ripen. Some of the branches are so heavily laden with fruit that I am using twine to tie them to the trellis. I am also removing any leaves that touch the soil surface to avoid late-blight, a fungal disease. I shall also be cutting back on water. A little stress on the plant hastens the ripening process.
I am looking forward to a bountiful harvest this year.