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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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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