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Tomato Plants And Blossoms, The Great Debate

blossomsI was at the Schuring Green Houses the other day and Sue asked me a question that has been debated for as long as I’ve been planting tomatoes. The question was; Should you remove blossoms and fruit from a tomato plant when you’re planting it?

Let me give a definitive answer….it depends….how was that for being definitive? Actually it does depend, it depends on your gardening crystal ball and mother natures mood. Geezzz, pretty soon I’ll have Harry Potter involved….but, I digress.

Let me give a little back ground to the question, a framework to inspect the validity of the the very question itself. There is one school of thought that will tear the blossoms off the tomato plant without a second thought in order to promote a stronger root system. They subscribe to the school of thought that provides that the tomato plant needs to get established before setting blossoms. This is a valid concept, for the most part. Then there is the school of folks that leave the blossoms on….me included. I’ll tell you why. “Usually” I’ve already transplanted my tomato seedlings into a 4″ or 6″ pot  by the time blossoms appear, or I’ve purchased a large tomato plant (Early girl) from Luba at Schram’s Greenhouses. In the 2 above cases I leave the blossoms on because I know the root system is already pretty good and I’d prefer the early tomatoes AND I’ve got the proverbial bird in hand. Here’s where mother nature comes into play…..if you plant and night time temperatures drop below 55° the blossoms will generally drop off anyway. If the night time temperatures exceed 75° and the daytime temperature exceeds 92° for a few days you’ll have a plant struggling to blossom and your theoretical window of blossoming will be severely shortened, add to this problems with humidity making pollen clump and it’s a miracle we get tomatoes at all!

So, there you have it, the Owl Entrails and Ouija Board explanation of how to treat blossoms. If you really want to get scientific with all of this I suggest you do what I did many years ago, try an experiment. Take any 2 plants of the same kind with blossoms on them and remove the blossoms from one and leave the other as it is and see what happens at the end of the growing season. Be sure and mark the plants such that you know which is which. A little twig in the ground works great as long as you remember what it represents. Good Luck and Good Growing!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Crystl

Posted Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by by admin, under Planting Tomatoes.

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