Pruning Indeteriminate Tomatoes

Asked August 20, 2020, 4:12 PM EDT

In the twelve summers I have lived in this apartment, I have had bad luck growing tomatoes. Some years they set flowers but few tomatoes form. Other years, like last summer there were very few blossoms. Last year with 3 plants I got no slicers and 3 cherries. This year, I have read everything I could. I have hand pollinated whenever I saw blossoms. So far I have about 6 tomatoes on my Moskovech and quite a few on my cherry. I have read online about pruning indeterminates, and the articles all say not to rune the top until just before frost to encourage tomatoes to ripen, but to prune below .the areas where the first blossoms occur. However, I can't reach the top any more, and am too unsteady on my feet to try to stand on something to either prune or hand pollinate. The vines are so thin at this point that they would probably break under the weight of tomatoes. My impulse is to cut the top so it will be in reach for me, and hope that more flowers form. The Moscovech does not seem to be putting out flowers any more. The cherry is still putting out flowers. So If I cut the top of the vines so I can reach them, will it stop flowering if it already has not?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

The plants will continue to flower if you didn't pick out the new stems at the leaf nodes. However it's getting late in the season and you want to make sure the fruit that has set actually ripens. When I want that to happen I simply pinch all the flowers and the fruit that has no chance of getting to size and start reducing the water, both of which should help with ripening the existing fruit. If you have kitchen or barbecue tongs, you can use them to bend the vine at the top to help you make the cut. Bending it where you want it to stop will likely cause enough damage to stop the upper growth.