Pinching Suckers

The tomatoes outgrew their cages within a month and still continued to climb.

During the week, the Curmudgeonly Lion added a second level of fencing wire to the towers, now standing eight feet tall, and then proceeded to use all the propane in the grill trying to use it as a forge so that he could bend rebar into stakes to help stabilize the structures. He ended up making a set of rebar candycanes. They looked cute, but they were going to require some further smithing.

The day dawned overcast, so we decided to make the most of it. The Lion fired up the backyard fire pit and stuck the irons in with the idea that he would hammer the ends into hooks using a length of pipe and a three pound sledgehammer from Harbor Freight. (For the record, this actually worked pretty well).

My task was simpler: train the plants to climb the new fencing, and thin the foliage by pinching suckers. This second task sounds dirty (it’s not) but trying to explain it just makes it worse: you see, every time a tomato plant splits into two branches, a sucker can start to form in the crotch…


At any rate, suckers are little shoots that can turn into new vines if left un-pinched. The current plants did not need any new vines: already they have achieved the kind of vegetative density usually reserved for protecting enchanted castles for a hundred years. What they did need was a way for sunlight to get in to the middle so that the plant didn’t choke its own leaves. So my morning was spent looking for ambitious little shoots and breaking them off.

My thumbs literally turned green.

Realistically, though, if the plants continue to thrive it will no doubt be in spite of my work instead of because of it. I take no credit.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 19, 2018.

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