I have found the most wonderful article on how and why you should prune your tomatoes. This could be the answer to all of our problems.
Reasons you should prune your tomato plants include:
1) you maximize the efficiency of photosynthesis, allowing the leaves that remain to present themselves fully to the sun, as well as the fruit. Remember, a tomato plant is a "sugar factory."
2) you decrease the risk of soil-borne diseases getting onto the lower leaves by splashing up onto them
3) the plant will grow stronger main stems
3) you remove the suckers or new stems which grow in the joints, or axils, and therefore allow the plant to produce bigger, more flavorful fruit rather than more plentiful, smaller, less flavorful fruit
The article also revealed that when you have too many leaves on your plant (obviously the problem with Mr. Stripey), the leaves which do not have a chance to get sun will stop photosynthesizing and will become yellow and wither up. The rest of the plant does not need it anymore as part of the sugar assembly line.
So, this is what Mr. Stripey looked like previously, remember:
There are so many leaves, you can even tell at the bottom of the plant that it is shading itself. I should have been able to tell even back then that I needed to lop off some of that growth.
For instance, in a post a week or two ago, in the investigation of the myriad problems of Mr. Stripey, I posted this photo, of the yellowing withering leaves at the bottom:
bad news, here. After reading the pruning article I could not wait to get out there and start clipping.
Here is the product of all that work:
The sun was not ideal for this photo (much too bright) but i mercilessly lopped off the bottom stems that were completely shaded by the upper leaves.
According to this article, you should take off all stems below the first flower cluster. Now, I don't exactly have a first flower cluster, so I could not determine where I should begin pruning based upon that. But, based upon the theory that I need to improve photosynthesis by presenting all leaves to the sun, and decrease the chance of soil-splashed-borne disease, I got rid of everything near the soil and everything in the shade.
Another photo of Mr. Stripey, post-pruning:
I have high hopes that this will assist the Mr. Stripey plant with production of fruit.
I also pruned the other tomato plants. Here is a photo of the Big Boy/Better Boy hybrid, which has produced only one fruit so far, but has recently had many more flowers. I hope with the pruning it starts getting really juicy:
I made sure to take off all of the "suckers" in the joints on both plants.
On another note, here is the size of the mesclun greens. I really have no idea when to harvest these, but I think they may be around that size now. Does anyone out there have an opinion on this? I took a photo of this by my own hand to show their approximate size at this time. I'd like to begin pulling some for my salads now.
It looks like the individual leaves are about half palm size, and my palms are pretty small. So, not that big. Then there are other assorted types of leaves as well, since it is a mix. But I know I have eaten regular mesclun greens as well as "baby mesclun greens", at least I think. Either way I think I could munch them down now . . .