Double Your Tomato Plants

Reader Contribution by Harper Slusher
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Tomatoes have always been one of the key vegetables in my garden- perfect eaten raw, as well as cooked into sauces and dishes of all kinds. Each spring, I usually purchase 10 to 20 seedlings of different varieties. Even so, I continue to wish I had more plants.

Unfortunately, like most organic things, organic seedlings can be quite expensive. While growing from seed is certainly a much less expensive option, I have little patience for this method. Luckily, there is a very simple way to double, even triple your seedlings in just a week.  The technique used to increase the number of seedlings is very similar to pruning.

I’ve always found pruning to be difficult. Even though I know it will increase the produce in the future, I can never get over how difficult it is to cut away the branches after nurturing them from seed. Of course, there are many benefits to pruning your tomato plants. Removing the lower branches of the plant helps sturdy its base to encourage prevention of drooping tomatoes. This will also exhilarate upward growth, which can increase the amount of produce and you can also dramatically increase the quantity of your tomato plants.

Starting at the base of your tomato plants that have matured to at least one foot in height, carefully remove any limbs that are less than three to four inches from the ground. These are what will be used to grow your tomato plants.  When removing the limbs, you can use your fingers to snap off the branches or a sanitary sharp knife if you have trouble with the other method. If removed properly, the stem should be separated cleanly.

After removing the limbs, fill a glass jar with water and add the limbs. Three quarters of each branch should be in the water, but do not allow the leaves to fall into the water. Each day add water to compensate for the water used by the plants.  Within a week, roots will begin to sprout out of the sides of the branch. Allow time for the roots to grow and mature. The more time you allow for this, the faster the plants will grow and mature once in soil. I normally wait until the roots are about 1 ½ – 2 inches in length before planting them.

Once the roots have matured, you can begin planting them by digging a hole at least as deep as the length of the bottom of the stem to where the roots end.  Place your tomato plant in the ground and fill the hole with soil. If your soil is not high in nutrients with poor drainage, you may want to consider adding compost to build up nutrients and sand, which will aid that plants by allowing the soil to drain more easily.

The first few weeks are extremely vital. Be sure to not plant your tomatoes outdoors if there is a chance of frost as tomatoes are extremely sensitive and a single frost could easily wipe out your entire crop. After planting your tomatoes, be sure to water the plants well. Continue to do so during dry times.

As the plants mature, you can continue to prune and expand your crops for a longer range of produce.  To further sturdy your plants, you can remove stems coming out between the base and a large branch. In a couple months, you will have a bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes!

I am a young farmer and photographer committed to growing organically and protecting the environment.

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