How to Prune Tomatoes for Earlier Harvests, Higher Yields & Hea...

Under all is the soil! Whether farming or gardening, soil needs nourishment. Tomatoes need a particular kind of soil if you want delicious tasting tomatoes. A tasty tomato begins with a seed or a cutting placed in nutritious soil, given proper watering that allows oxygen to get to the roots. Pruning is part of the process of getting tasty tomatoes.  

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What Nutrients Do Tomato Plants Need?

The Big Three: "Primary nutrients," N-P-K, Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, provide vital ingredients to tomatoes. 

Supporting Trio

Tomatoes need the "secondary nutrients," calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, but in lesser amounts than the primary nutrients. Calcium improves cell health, protecting against diseases and bruises. Tomatoes with higher levels of calcium are also more nutritious. Photosynthesis and chlorophyll both rely on magnesium, which helps their overall quality. Sulfur is needed for proteins and amino acids; a deficiency in magnesium and sulfur harms growth and causes yellow leaves.


Tomatoes need micronutrients too, even if only in small amounts. Zinc, iron, boron, chloride, molybdenum, copper and manganese serve many purposes. Molybdenum, for instance, helps tomatoes efficiently use nitrogen, while zinc helps regulate growth and promotes proper sugar consumption. Boron assists tomatoes in making use of nutrients and is also essential to the development of their fruit and seeds.


To give tomatoes all the necessary nutrients, you need to apply the right fertilizer. The University of Missouri recommends a fertilizer low in nitrogen, high in phosphorus and with a medium to high amount of potassium. Secondary and micronutrients can be delivered through organic matter. Work things like grass cuttings and old leaves into the tomato's soil or spread them around the plants as a mulch. As they decompose, they will release the needed nutrients.

Hi Joan, thank you for the timely and very useful topic!  Tomatoes are a big favorite for me to grow and eat.

Last year I had a pretty good crop, although there were a lot of cooking tomatoes with blossom end rot.  From various readings, that's either too little calcium, or I might have been to generous with nitrogen.  My soil did test as low in calcium, typical for maritime NW soils.  So during the winter, I added lime to the beds that now have tomato plants.  I gave them nitrogen boosts to start out, but with the current big lush green leaves, I don't think they need any more so that's all for them.  I also save eggshells, but some reports show they are too slow to release their calcium for same - year effect, so I'm thinking of them as a long term nutrient supplement.

There is a lot of folklore about Epsom salts, and now a lot of people out there debunking that folklore.  I had my soil tested a few years ago, and my magnesium was low.  The main benefit of Epsom salts is magnesium.   I have some trees that had yellowish leaves, and after giving them Epsom salts, they are nice and dark green.  So, I have given many of my plants a boost of Epsom salts this year.  Mostly done last weekend.

The raised beds usually get a boost of compost, although this year I didn't have enough and I didn't want to buy any.  Next year...

I did not prune tomatoes  well enough last year, and they were too wild and rangy.  I am removing suckers now.  In my cool climate, I think it's better to train them to one or two main stems, and not let them branch too much.  It's challenging, because deer eat the tomato plants, so they all have to be in screened beds, which are harder to weed.

I bought a few new seeds, but mostly grew old ones, mostly 5 years old except Celebrity which was 10 years old.  The Celebrity seeds were very slow to start but finally did.  They were my mother's favorite type.

My favorite is Better Boy so I grew 2 of those. 5 year old seeds.

Ning likes cherry tomatoes, so I planted Sungold and SuperSweet 1000.  5 year old seeds.

I also like Lemon Boy, but my seeds ran out and I could not find new ones for that one.

As a novelty, I'm growing a multicolor grape tomato called "Atomic Grape" new from Baker Creek seeds.

Also as a novelty, I'm growing "Black Beauty" new from Baker Creek.

To try for an early harvest, I'm trying "BeaverLodge 6808" from Territorial seeds.

To extend the harvest, I'm trying "Longkeeper" which supposedly ripen over an extended time indoors in the fall.

Last year I grew some Romas, dried them, and am really enjoying using them in cooking now.  So I planted a few Romas again (3 year old Burpee seeds).  And some Roma-type San Marzano Italian cooking tomatoes from Baker Creek, also for drying.

Tomorrow I need to get out there, prune, maybe set up some stakes, hoe, and weed the tomatoes!  Then if there is time, do some apple tree maintenance.

Thanks very much for the info.  I enjoyed reading your post and watching the video.

Daniel, I think we're twins. Lol. Better Boy is also my favorite tomato. I couldn't find one this year. Everyplace was sold out. So I settled for big girl? Something like that. I don't start seeds. There's to little sun in these trees to grow many vegetables so it's not worth the trouble.




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