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To prune or not to prune?

To prune or not to prune?

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Opinion is divided on whether tomatoes benefit from pruning, writes Penny Woodward.

Opinion is very much divided on whether indeterminate plants should be pruned by removing the lateral shoots or not pruned at all. I’m in the not at all camp. I will prune sometimes (especially when I’ve planted too close together) to open up some
spaces and reduce the chance of diseases. When I do, I carefully remove the lower leaves and shoots, leaving a gap that minimises the risk of disease transmission from the soil. In general, I just let them grow.

The Diggers Club did some trials comparing pruned and unpruned tomatoes and found that the unpruned ones had much higher yields. But if you only want to use one stake and to keep your plants neat, then you can pinch out the lateral shoots that grow from the point where the leaves join the stem.

Many very good gardeners advocate doing this for better production, but I think too much pruning actually increases the risk of disease entering the plant. Why not do your own trials and let us know the outcome?

And if you’d like to read Penny Woodward’s top ten tips for trouble-free tomatoes pick up a copy of the October issue of Organic Gardener magazine.