To sucker or not to sucker........

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by shining, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. shining

    shining Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2004
    Location:
    Northwest NC
    I have several raised beds and have several tomatoes planted in those beds. Problem is, I have a 2 month old that is taking most of my time, as you can imagine! So, I am wondering what the easiest/least maintenance way of growing tomatoes is. I have always suckered but am wondering if I really have to. Since they're in beds, I'd prefer them to be more bushy than tall. Do I have to stake or cage them or will they survive without it? I don't need tons of fruit and I don't need huge fruit. I would like to achieve a good mix of low maintenance and decent yield!

    Any and all advice appreciated! Thanks in advance.

    Shining
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    If you are prepared to stake them up to 6 or 7 feet, go ahead and remove all laterals. 7' is about right for most indeterminates since that will give them a chance to grow a single stem up 7' and have another 7' to reach back to the ground! But if you would prefer 3 stems of about 5', leave them grow as they were meant to grow. That's what the 4' cages are designed for!

    Martin
     

  3. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    19,807
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    I tried suckering a couple of times, then decided it really wasn't worth my effort. I still get more than enough tomatoes to eat, can, and give away.

    It's one of those things I'm glad I dropped in the whirl of mothering my kids. :)

    Pony!
     
  4. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,354
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Location:
    Fairfield, Iowa
    For years,I staked,caged,suckered,pruned-everything.I dont do any of it anymore,and my plants absolutely load up with maters.I may lose a branch once in a great while,but I'm still overloaded with maters,so I dont sweat it.Of course,the varieties I grow arent very large(heavy)ones,and my raised beds are well shielded from wind,so that's probably something to consider.
     
  5. shining

    shining Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2004
    Location:
    Northwest NC
    Thanks so much for the input. I'm going to forego suckering this year and see how it goes! One less thing to keep track of!

    Thanks again!
     
  6. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,308
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    I do and have never been dissapointed....my theory is, the less amout of useless leaves getting nutrients, the more that goes into my fruit!~
     
  7. rocket

    rocket Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    400
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    But don't those leaves make the carbohydrates that go into the fruit? And lots of leaves protect the fruit from sun scald. I figure the more leaves the better.
     
  8. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,390
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Central WV
    I never suckered until this year, and this year I'm trying it.

    I've read that an unsuckered plant will give you more tomatoes, but if you're doing square foot gardening you should sucker - this means less fruit per plant, but more fruit per square foot, as more plants fit into a smaller area.
     
  9. shining

    shining Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2004
    Location:
    Northwest NC
    Turtlehead, that's what I did last year and didn't have good luck. I planted 1 tomato per sq. foot in my beds and it just didn't work for us. Granted, I was pregnant and not tending to the garden like I should have, but I felt the spacing was just too close and the plants suffered and didn't produce much at all. It does make sense that the more you sucker the bigger/fewer the fruit. This year I have spaced them a little further apart and will not sucker. We'll see!
     
  10. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,390
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Central WV
    I thought one foot was too close, too, shining, so I've given mine about 18" I think. Still pretty close, but I thought I'd give it a try.

    If I'd been thinking, I'd have suckered some and not suckered others. May do that anyway - they're just getting their first flowers and I've not pulled off many suckers.

    Hmm... I feel an experiment coming on ;)