need to prune tomato plant?

Hello,
It is my first year to grow tomato. It is beefsteak and I plant one in a 20" planter. I used "Whiteney Farm" organic all purpose plant food. I read that using organic fertilizer I don't have to worry about overfertilize because it is regulated by the microbes or sth machnism like that. I bought a tomato cage from HD which has 4 rings and 3 stalks. Now, the tomato plant grows to almost the tallest ring but I haven't got any flower not saying fruit. I'm wondering whether I should prune the plant, ie cut some tips? When, where and how? My plant may only get 4 hours afternoon sun. It is the best I can do with my location. How bad will this affect the flowering and production?
Really anxious. Some tomato plants on HD shelf start to bear green tomatos. I guess their living condition may not be as good as my tomato. It is much crowded there and the plant is much shorter. Though the finding is encouraging, it also makes me wonder whether I miss sth in growing my tomato.
Thanks for your advice!
Frank
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Four hours of sun is way too short.

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On Mon, 17 May 2004 23:50:48 GMT, "FDR"

Yep about half the sunlight the plant should really be getting. Visit my website: http://www.frugalmachinist.com Opinions expressed are those of my wifes, I had no input whatsoever. Remove "nospam" from email addy.
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il Mon, 17 May 2004 23:50:48 GMT, "FDR" ha scritto:

Yeah, tomatoes are definitely day duration dependendent. How about rigging up some mirrors to shine into the shady area? It does work but even better if one could get them to track the sun. :-)
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Loki [ Brevity is the soul of wit. W.Shakespeare ]
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Frank wrote:

Many growers recommend pinching out the suckers that grow between the main stem and larger branches to put more energy into the viable portions.
I grow tomatoes on the west side of my garage where they get 4 - 6 hours of full sun daily. They don't do as well as the plants that get more, but i get plenty of tomatoes every year anyway. Be patient about the blossom thing.
Dorothy
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Pruning tomato bushes is a tradeoff. If you prune the later fruit (flower) clusters the earlier clusters will ripen sooner. However, the total yield from the plant will be reduced. If you have several plants, you might prune one or two and leave the rest for production. Pruning will not initiate flowering or fruit production.
When pruning, you don't cut the tips of the vines. Look for the main stem. It will branch out occasionally. At the branch, a leaf will form between the branch and the main stem. This leaf will eventually turn into another vine which will bear fruit. However, the point at which it joins the stem is weaker than the main branches and these vines are subject to breaking off. These vines are the ones to prune. The easiest way is to just break off the leaf that forms at the junction. They are generally brittle enough that you can just bend it enough to break it off, and you don't need pruners.
If you do enough work in your tomatoes your fingers will turn black. It will wash off, but even when your fingers look clean, washing your hands will turn the soap yellow or green for a couple of hours. It's just a thing that tomatoes do, and doesn't really hurt your hands or the plant.
The best way to choose tomato plants at a garden center is to look for good color and no wilting and the thickest stems, not the tallest plants. Tall skinny tomato plants have probably been crowded together in their growing area. They will recover once set out, but it will take them a bit more time to bear fruit (possibly a week or two depending on how crowded they were).
More sun is better, but the plants will produce with 4 hours of sunlight.
Frank wrote:

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dps wrote:

Allow me to offer a contrary thought. When shopping for tomato plants I specifically look for the spindly ones about to be thrown away.
I do this because I intend to plant extra deep, allowing roots to form over the entire buried length. No matter how tall my plants are the day I buy them, they are about 2 leaves tall the day I plant them. By planting extra deep, roots form along the entire length of the buried vine. This gives the plant a large quantity of roots buried deeply enough to ride out all but the worst of droughts. With such deep roots and so many of them, the 'buried to their necks' plants take off on a growth spurt and soon catch up and surpass their taller cousins.
I used to use a posthole digger to make the hole to plant them but one of those 3" diameter soil augers sold for use with electric drill motors works just fine for me in my current beds. It is also possible to simply lay them horizontally in a shallower hole but that gives you only half the advantage. You get a lot of roots, but none of them are particularly deep.
YMMV but this is what I have found to work for me.
Bill
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com writes:

Having grown up in sun country, I was very concerned about my garden location as there is no place in it that gets more than half a day of sun because of surrounding trees (though this year the top third of my 30-foot plus magnolia tree is gone, thanks to winter storms).
What I have learned in my own garden is that sun does not seem to be as much a factor as proper watering. Proper watering means soaking once a week or so so that *all* the soil is wet, not just around the plant. Water placed directly around the plant dissipates into the surrounding soil pulling it away from the intended plants which is why soaking is important. I can assure you that in eastern Washington, the plants needed that thorough soaking with that terrific drainage.
Something I see often with folks is that they will water half an hour or maybe an hour if they are feeling generous. I use surface watering (soaker hoses or drip) and water for a minimum of four hours. The generous watering not only wets all the surrounding soil, but it provides a good atmosphere for all the critters working underground to keep the soil in premium condition for optimum growing. After watering, you should be able to dig down and not find dry soil.
Tomato plants are among those that need good drainage which means ample moisture but not wet feet. Sunshine matters, but daylight matters more than direct sunlight. With four hours of direct sunlight per day, that should be enough as long as the rest of the day they have daylight; filtered light through trees is okay for the rest of the daylight.
Always remember that what the roots take up matters more than any other single thing, that means fertile soil and water. The sunlight is the stimulant, so to speak, that utilizes everything else. Tomatoes are amazingly hardy, perhaps one of the hardiest of the edibles. Give them good soil, water and sunlight and they will thrive. :-)
Glenna
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On 17 May 2004 16:45:37 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Frank) wrote:

Looks like Whitney Farms 'all purpose' is a balanced 5-5-5 (N-P-K) formula. Tomato-specific fertilizer is generally a little heaver in the Potassium department, but it should be OK.

It should be illegal to sell those. They are *way* too small and flimsy for healthy tomato plants. Try and rig up some other support for your plant.

You 'prune' tomato plants by removing 'suckers' that grow in the 'V' of larger branches. Opinions differ on the wisdom/necessity of this. Do *not* cut the tips of branches.

Considerably and negatively. Tomatoes like "full sun", which means at least 6 hours a day. More is better. Your plant may produce a few tomatoes, but full sun would make a world of difference.
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We had some a couple years ago that stayed short and bushy... would fit fine in such a cage -- my tenant used one, why I don't know. The cage was redundant cuz the plant was so stiff it could take a 60mph wind without flinching. Last year we just let them grow any which way and if they wanted to fall over on the ground, that was fine. Those are the ones that grew the 12 foot long vines -- I'd like to see a cage for that size, haha :)
The two I have out back right now -- one is stiff as a board, the other flops around in the wind. Different varieties. Stiff plants hold up better here (high winds most days rip up apart plant that flops around much).
~REZ~
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net writes:

Sounds like a determinate, maybe a Roma type? Determinates don't keep growing and growing; they are a specific height.
Glenna
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On Tue, 18 May 2004 19:47:46 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

If a tomato needs any support at all, those wretched dime-store cages won't help. Their drawbacks include lack of stability, as well as lack of height and structure to "contain" a fruit-heavy plant. I really hate 'em, and the way first time gardeners are tricked into buying them.
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True. I use them now for the peonys, and I use rebar cages for the tomatoes (you have to have a serious cutter to cut that kind of wire). Even these are smallish. The yellow pear, for example, grow to 8 feet, and rebar is only 5 feet.
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snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

Didn't look like a Roma -- had smallish round fruit (mostly tucked "inside", you had to know to look to see them, tho there were lots), good flavour raw, almost none when cooked; rather high proportion of "tomato snot".

Ah, that's good to know. Specific height is better for me, since right now I only have specific places to put them :)
~REZ~
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OK everybody, lets stop using the term "tomato snot". I'm going to have to be eating those things in a couple of months and I want to be able to enjoy them!!!! :-)
Steve
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If you eat at my house, you will hear it again, since I invented it :)
~REZ~
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I think tomato pruning is very uncritical, especially if the plants are vigorous.
Removal of suckers is a good rule of thumb, but sometimes my caged plants get so dense that I have to remove entire major branches.
Tomatoes will sustain radical pruning. Not necessarily recommended, but indicative of tomatoes toughness. DaveH
On 17 May 2004 16:45:37 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Frank) wrote:

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