Why should you prune your tomatoes you may ask? The answer is you don’t have to but I have seen some benefits that I want to share with you. The most important benefit from pruning my tomatoes is that you can reduce the disease problems that plague tomatoes in the southeast. The blight or fungus that destroys most tomatoes eventually is spread by wet leaves. If you can increase the air circulation around the leaves they will dry faster and help to prevent the spread of the fungus. When I do spray with organic remedies I can cover the leaves I am spraying if the plants are not too thick with vines and leaves. This practice can have a negative effect later in the season as you may get too much sun onto the fruit and cause sun scald. For this reason I will not prune out as many vines after July as I do early in the season so as to shade more of the tomatoes. In this short video you can see the side shoots or suckers that I prune.
When you prune the side shoots or suckers and train your tomato to grow straight up in a single stem fashion you are saving space in your garden. This may give you room to grow more varieties of tomatoes or just more vegetables in a small garden. You will need a tall trellis or you can grow them on a string trellis if you build something to attach the string to at the top. As the tomato reaches the top of the trellis as all indeterminate tomatoes will do if they live long enough you can adjust the string downward and let the tomato vine coil up on the ground. All your new tomatoes will be on new growth at the top of the vine.