Have you ever heard of gardeners sprinkling salt on their tomatoes? This has been a long-running discussion in our family about whether this is a good idea or not. My husband comes from a long line of gardeners. They have green thumbs and take delight in their beautiful tomatoes.
However, this one issue has the power to split a room in an instant. Over the years, I’ve taken mental notes on all of the reasons why someone should or should not top their tomatoes.
Today I’m going to tell you about them. If you go this route, I’ll also show you how to top your tomatoes. Here’s all you need to know about tomato topping.
Benefits of Topping Tomatoes
There are several benefits to topping your tomato plants. One significant advantage is that it results in fuller plants. If you want your plant to be bushier, remove the top of the plant. This allows the rest of the plant to redirect energy to other areas which enables it to fill out instead of continuing to grow taller.
Topped tomato plants will also often produce bigger fruit and more fruit. Again, this has to do with redirecting the plant’s energy into the fruit instead of trying to grow a larger plant.
Another advantage is that topped tomatoes are simpler to stake. Your tomato vines may be topped at the top of the stakes. If you’ve ever had to battle a giant tomato plant, you know how unpleasant it is.
It fits perfectly within a tomato cage since the plant’s height has been reduced. You also won’t have to wrestle the plant to keep it in the cage.
Topping tomato plants may help weak, lanky plants gain vigor. If you cut them back and allow them the opportunity to regrow, many times they grow back stronger.
When the plants regrow, they may also come back sturdier in many cases. This enables them to accommodate larger tomatoes without fear of shattering.
Some gardeners also find that their tomato plants produce more new flowers more when topped, resulting in more new fruit. Topping tomatoes may also speed up the ripening process.
It also improves the plants’ ability to survive the weather. Since the plants are lower to the ground, they’re less likely to break during heavy rain or windstorms.
Now that you know why many gardeners embrace the notion of topping tomatoes, let’s talk about why others are still skeptical of this gardening practice.
Drawbacks to Topping Tomatoes
Whilst there are several reasons why people top their tomatoes, there are a few reasons why others do not.
The first reason many gardeners don’t top their tomatoes is because it adds to their workload. If you’re a busy gardener or someone who likes to keep things as simple as possible, topping your tomatoes may be more than you want to take on.
Once you begin topping certain varieties of tomatoes, it becomes an on-going process. Some gardeners may find this overwhelming.
Another reason why some gardeners shun this approach is because it only works on specific sorts of tomatoes.
You should not top determinate tomato varieties until the conclusion of the growing season.
Certain varieties can only reach a set height. Therefore, when you top them, you’re sending messages to the plants.
Once topped, determinate plants won’t produce any more fruit or grow any taller. Instead, they’ll focus their efforts toward ripening the remaining fruit.
As a result, your growth season is shortened and your yield is less. Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, may be topped. These tomatoes do not grow to a certain height.
As a result, if you top indeterminate tomatoes, they will keep growing. If you’re unsure about what variety of tomato you’re growing, or if you know you’re growing a determinate variety of tomato, you shouldn’t practice topping.
The third reason some gardeners dislike topping their tomatoes is because they believe it is wasteful.
Depending on how tall the plant has grown, you may need to remove substantial sections of it.
My mother-in-law was one who never liked to waste anything. As a result, she struggled greatly with topping tomatoes.
If you feel the same way, you should know that you don’t have to throw away what you cut. Here is a great little growing tip, instead of wasting what you have cut, you can take the cuttings and plant them in your vegetable garden.
Keep the soil around the cuttings continually wet for the greatest results. Over a week or so, each cutting should develop roots and become new, young plants.
The cuttings may also be planted in soil. This way you can have container tomatoes if you don’t have enough room for more tomato plants in your garden.
This would also make a great gift for those around you who love homegrown tomatoes. It is ultimately up to you whether or not you top your tomatoes.
Nonetheless, we hope that you now understand why some gardeners prefer to avoid this alternative, despite the fact that it has several advantages.
How to Top Your Tomatoes
Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of topping tomatoes, let’s talk about how to do it. In most cases, you should wait until the tomato reaches the top of the stake or tomato cage before topping.
Once this occurs, use shears to make a clean cut and remove the part of the tomato which is above the top of the support for your staking set-up. Another approach for determining where to top is to choose the fruits on the plant that you want to retain.
When you’ve determined this, cut slightly above where the fruits are on the plant. If you’re pruning around fruit, be sure you leave enough foliage to protect it from becoming scorched by the sun.
Tomatoes need shade or they will perish. When you’re finished tomato pruning, as mentioned earlier, you must realize this isn’t a one-and-done scenario.
Each week, you must continue to prune. As the plant grows back, it should be healthier, but it will also become too large for your staking set-up again.
The plant will also reroute energy. It will start concentrating on new growth rather than the fruit that is already on the vine. Therefore, you must continue to prune tomato plants if you’d like see the same benefits through the entire season.
Can You Top More Plants Than Just Tomatoes?
Now that you know how to top tomatoes and why some gardeners like this form of plant care, you may be wondering whether you can top other plants.
Indeed, the answer is yes. Another plant benefits from being topped. When pepper plants are young, they are often topped.
The reason for this is that it encourages fuller plants with larger fruit and avoids them becoming too leggy. If you plant peppers, you may wish to apply these similar suggestions to other sections of your garden.
This finishes our examination of tomato toppings. There are many reasons why you should consider this technique, but there are also reasons why topping tomatoes may not be right for everyone.
After reviewing the data, choose the best selection for your timetable and tomato types in your garden. Hopefully, I’ve shed some light about topping tomatoes and given you enough information to help you make a well-informed decision.