So what has happened is that we are still working on putting in the new beds and planting as we go. It's amazing because I even started my tomato seeds a few weeks later than normal.
Many people have not seen our Top Bar Method for supporting tomatoes. I've just written a recent article for Natural Family Today explaining in detail how this system works. But now I need to show how I prune and tie them as well.
Aggie Horticulture and Extension Service you can see that you keep the suckers pinched out so they don't branch out into new long stems. The suckers are found in the Y of the branches or the crotch so to speak. I also prune the lower side shoots under each cluster of flowers or tomatoes, but leave a couple side shoots above the cluster to keep the tomatoes protected from being sun scalded. This keeps your plant concentrating on making fruit instead of so much foliage.
When I tie them I use a basic jute rope (not the nylon type) and make a figure 8 by looping under a side shoot just under each cluster of flowers and then around to the rope support.. This way when the tomato cluster get heavy they have plenty of support.
The thing I like most about using the ropes to tie the main stem to is that they have some give to them. As strong winds come blowing through the entire plant will sway with the rope a bit. This has kept the stem safe from snapping or breaking. It also has kept the plant safe from digging into wire or wooden stakes with no give to them that can damage the plant.
Last summer we experienced endless days of strong southern gulf coast winds. One of the varieties of heirlooms we grow is called Roman Stripped. After several days of non stop wind I noticed all of these particular plants begin to wrap the ends of their side shoot stems around the rope support. I've never seen this characteristic in any other variety. It was as though they had little hands hanging onto a swing much like a child would do.
Heirlooms show some amazing qualities to adapt to the environment in which they are grown. They acclimate to the soil in your very own garden as well to the weather conditions. Each new year that you save seed from heirlooms they improve with vigor and health. We should never loose the diversity within our food system. The only way to protect them is by growing them.
Many people prefer to go for quantity, but here we strive for quality. You might not get as many tomatoes using this method, but they will yield a whole lot more quality fruit. Your heirloom tomatoes will be gorgeous!