We finished what we thought would be the last of the Sugar Snap peas the other day and I was considering pulling them out in preparation for sowing seeds for green beans.  But although there are currently no peas developing, each plant is producing another round of blossoms.  We’ll wait another few days to see if a late crop forms before we move on.  The peas are a short-lived treat and if there is the chance of a few more, I’ll take it.  There is plenty of time for the string beans.

For the last few days, I have been worried about the slow growth of the tomato plants.  The weather conditions up until now have been almost exactly the opposite of what they prefer (cool and wet versus warm and dry).  Reassuringly, however, the vines are finally showing signs of life.  As of today, they have all reached the second rung of their cages.

Not only are they taller and fuller but the Sungolds have sent forth their first branches of blossoms.  The flowers are only just formed and have not yet completely opened but once they do, they are sure to attract bees and other pollinators.  After that, it will not be long until we see cherry tomatoes.  Of course, we will still have to wait for them to grow and ripen but it is encouraging nonetheless.

All of the tomato plants are sprouting new branches, some which are low on the stem, as far down as the soil surface.  Using clippers, we nipped off all new growth lower than about six inches above the ground.  This will help keep the lowest portion of the plants dry and exposed to ventilating breezes.

Suckers have also started to form at most of the existing branches.  Now, I’m generally a proponent of aggressive pruning and my first reaction was to remove all of them.  This is the policy to which I adhered last year and certainly, the tomato vines were much easier to manage and tie to the cages.  But they also had fewer branches on which fruit could develop and that may have contributed to last year’s meager harvest (I don’t think it was the only reason).

This year, I will take a more moderate stance and assess each budding branch individually.  If a sucker is located where there are already several branches (or otherwise lush foliage), I will clip it off.  Alternatively, if a sucker forms where the plant is sparse, I’ll let it grow in.  The goal will be a uniformly full plant without undue congestion.

The summer squash plants also seem to have shifted into a higher gear and are beginning to fill out.  The only exception is one of the zucchini vines.  It otherwise looks normal but is only about half of the size of its sibling.  It is like someone hit it with a shrinking ray.  Actually, its color is also not as deeply green as its sister plant, which may be an indication that it is struggling.  Perhaps a dose of fertilizer to spur its growth?

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