Experimental tomatoes! That's my summer in a nutshell. I'm learning so much, whether I wanted to or not. :)
Here's what's happening now: Just like last year, here it is late August and I have a LOT of green, full-sized fruit on the vine, which is ripening just incredibly s-l-o-w-l-y. July was a blockbuster! So many tomatoes. We ate, and canned, and froze, and ate some more. And then boom. It's all over, and we get about one tomato a day.
Now I'm not complaining, I'll take one tomato a day over none. But the sight of all that beautiful fruit that is just staying GREEN is driving me crazy. We had a cool (for us) August, which also happened last year. That could be part of the problem. There's tons of green, new growth on these tomatoes, which makes me frustrated because the plant is putting all its energy into that rather than into making the tomatoes RED. Ostensibly, I have two more months of production ahead of me, because September and October can be notoriously hot around here (today's 102 is a precursor of that).
BUT - but - but - the same thing happened last year. And the tomatoes languished until I finally took them out in November, wasting all that green fruit! AND - I am planning to take out all the summer plants in early October anyway to plant our winter wheat. So I really don't have two more months of production, no matter how you slice it.
So, what to do? Next year, I might plant two batches of tomatoes - one in late April/early May to ripen in July, and one in late June/early July to ripen in October. But of course it's too late for that this year. So I decided to cut all my tomato vines by half.
I know, I know, I know what you are thinking. I'm crazy. And there's not much scientific data about whether or not this will work. But here's my nutty hope: If I cut of all the suckers, and all the new green growth, won't the plant put all its energy into ripening the fruit that's already on the vine???
There's a lot of things I'll do differently next year. First of all, if I'm going to prune the vines heavily, I need to stake each one separately. I had a lot of falling down this year, so the Florida weave is out. I need to figure out the blossom end rot problem for good, because it's killing me. I'm going to pare down the varieties that I grow so that we get only dependable vines. And I will probably only plant on the sunnier side of the garden, but also add some light shade cloth for the midday hours. I will likely do a bunch of tomatoes in containers to make up for not using the shadier side.
Meanwhile, we'll see what happens with my extreme pruning experiment. I'll get back to you in a month and let you know how it all goes!