Community members gathered to attend a tomato pruning workshop led by Tyler Franklin, Concordia’s high tunnel and garden manager, where they learned the importance of using pruning techniques to maintain a healthy tomato plant. The event was held at Concordia’s high tunnel on the southeast side of campus.
“It is a perfect day to prune,” Franklin said. “If you don’t know how to manage your tomato plants, you won’t get the most production of quality fruit out of them.”
Managing your tomato plants through pruning, explained Franklin, is the process of stripping away areas of a plant to help promote healthy growth and yield better fruit across a plant’s growing period.
In a typical tomato plant, there are flowers, leaves, a stem and the fruit. Throughout the growing period of a tomato plant, side shoots grow from the space between the stem and a branch. These side shoots tend to rob energy from the tomato plant, making the plant focus less on already growing fruit and more on growing a side shoot. Side shoots grow heavy and do not always produce good fruit. Franklin stressed quality over quantity when it comes to growing tomatoes.
“The goal isn’t as many OK-tasting tomatoes as possible,” he added. “The goal is to have a well-maintained plant with some terrific tasting tomatoes.”
Franklin says you should prune your plants to help direct plant energy toward the most important part – the fruit.
“By pruning, we get the plant to focus. We want to make the plant produce useful fruit and pruning helps with that,” Franklin said. “You will have a much more productive growth in the summer if you prune your plants. Pay attention to what your plant needs.”
Proper tomato plant maintenance can be done by getting rid of dying leaves and side shoots that are attached to your plant. Ideally, your tomato plant should only have the stem and four to five main branches of leaves and fruit attached. This process can be completed with gardening shears or your hands.
With gardening shears in hand, event attendees kneeled together to help accomplish pruning various breeds of tomatoes that are planted inside the high tunnel with Franklin’s help and instruction.
Concordia student and event participant Leah Jadeke ’20 explained that her favorite part of the workshop was the advice that Franklin gave to the group.
“His advice can be used in the garden and in life, observing and reacting,” she said. “I think that advice can be applied to what I do in my everyday life, whether I am in the garden or not.”