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Removing Tomato Suckers To Increase Tomato Production
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Removing Tomato Suckers to Increase Tomato Production

Many gardeners think of tomato suckers as just that, suckers! They suck the life out of your tomato plants. Not really, but it is a good premise. Think of a sucker as a tomato plant growing off the original plant. It grows and grows and may or may not produce fruit, but it does sap energy from its host.

As gardeners, we prune suckers so that the tomato plant can increase the amount and quality of fruit it produces. Remove the suckers and produce more and bigger tomatoes sound like a no-brainer right. What do we do with the suckers? We through them in the compost bin don’t we. After all, they are no good, but what if they served a higher purpose.

Why not take those tomato suckers and sprout them? It’s easier than growing tomatoes from seed and you can increase your production in a hurry! For arguments sake let’s use sweet 100 tomatoes and do the math. For ease of mathematics, we’ll say that a sweet 100 produces 100 cherry tomatoes. If we cut five suckers off the original plant and sprout them that’s an additional 500 tomatoes. Sprout five suckers off each of these and there is another 2500 cherry tomatoes all from the suckers of one founding plant.

I’ve only bought one sweet 100 for this very reason. I simply sprout tomato suckers from each generation of tomato plants and create the next generation. Should my plants lose vitality I will bring in some new plants, but I don’t see this happening any time soon.

So how do you sprout suckers? It is a simply process. Take a sharp knife or shears and cut the sucker off the tomato plant. Place it in water until you have collected all the cuttings you want. Next, place the cuttings in soil cut end first and wet them down. Keep the soil wet for a few days and they will start to root. When they are large enough to transplant, put them in larger pots or in your garden.

If you are raising you tomatoes hydroponically, you can put you suckers in a cutting plug or directly into wet hydroton. They will sprout much quicker in water than the will in soil, which is the point of using hydroponics to grow tomatoes.

You may have noticed that I did not say anything about rooting hormones. I have never used them and my suckers sprout just fine. Sometimes simpler is better.

Sprouting tomato suckers has worked with every variety of tomato I have attempted. That said, suckering can only create continuing generations of tomato plants if you are growing your tomatoes indoors. This won’t work with outdoor production as the plants die with the frost.

If you really want to increase your tomato production, plant those suckers and reap the juicy rewards!

Street Talk

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