Prune or not to prune: that is the question. Should you prune your peppers and tomato plants? Does it give a larger yield? Well I’ll answer the question for you in this post written by my amazing hubby!
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My Previous Experience Gardening
Since I was a young boy, my family has always grown a garden. We owned a village lot behind our house that we used for a garden, or truck patch, in the mid-1970s. We just planted it for basic Midwest canning or freezing foods, that I recall, for the winter.
Not to get off the subject much, but our garden was HUGE. A regular lot for a house and yard…only there was no house. My younger brother and I tilled that piece of ground every year with a 5 HP chain Dr. Husky front tine tiller. By the way, I’ve got the tiller now. Brings back a lot of memories that I hated then but cherish now.
Usually, every other year, we cleaned out somebody’s horse and mule barn to put all natural fertilizer on the patch. The most truckloads of manure hauled in one day that I can remember was five. All that was done by pitchfork! By the time me and my brother cleaned that manure packed barn down to the dirt, the ole mules thought they had shrunk a foot.
A few times my stepdad just spread 12-12-12 fertilizer over it and tilled it in. As I said before, usually just the basics plants like green beans, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and potatoes. The only real herb that I can recall that my mother wanted planted was dill for canning pickles.
How to Plant a Garden
There was never any special way of planting anything, that I remember, other than digging a hole for a tomato plant or stuffing an onion bulb in the ground about an inch. We hilled our potatoes and my stepdad bought a little manual push planter for green beans and corn. At that point in time, I really didn’t give a rip. I just wanted to get my job done and go do something with the neighbor boys that evening.
Keeping Out Weeds
Really, all in all, that part wasn’t the hardest part of gardening like you would think. The hardest part at that time for keeping a productive garden, and to this day, is keeping the weeds and insects out. All these plastic rolls and environmentally sound material for controlling the weeds around your plants at the time were unheard of.
We manually pulled the weeds from around the plants and hoed whatever you could. Straw was the only thing we used and that was around the potatoes. Why we didn’t use it around everything else I don’t know, but at the time I didn’t care.
Enjoying the Fruits of our Non-pruned Plants
We did so much enjoy though the reaping of our labor later. Just like life folks it’s hard sometimes but eventually it pays off for you. Years later after I left the nest, got married and had two boys, I fell in love with it.
Apparently, something I used to hate but was always in my blood, the smell of fresh turned up dirt. I’ve been around farmers and farms all my life, and if you know what I’m talking about there’s nothing like smelling a freshly disked up field or the inside of an old grain truck. It’s in your blood or it ain’t I guess. And eventually comes back to you.
Learning to Prune Tomatoes and Peppers
Well, in the last two years they finally took away my landline phone, and I had to get one of those smart phones. Yes it was a sad day, all my buddies now in their 50s almost had a heart attack! I was now in the whatever century it is.
So being one of those geniuses now, that I am, I discovered YouTube. YouTube, well I guess I can say, it can be entertaining and educational and, Lord have mercy, everything on it I reckon you can imagine.
Well, after looking up old Jerry Lee Lewis film and cooking videos, I looked up healthy plants for tomatoes. I’ve always planted the garden the old way as usual, still pulling weeds and using a little (affiliate link) Sevin dust if I have to.
My First Experience Pruning
I got onto a pruning channel on YouTube which, like always, there’s a bunch of them, like every other thing. I studied them a little and got some advice from more than just one site.
Never in my life had I pruned a tomato plant or a bell pepper plant. I learned where the suckers are on the tomatoes and where to prune on the bell peppers also.
This year of 2019, I had 70 bell peppers, 16 tomato plants, along with the same amount of jalapeño peppers that I pruned just to try it. The final result one by one I observed was bell peppers usually are about 3 foot high here in Southern Illinois, the production was no more, the time taken was quite a bit, and you had to bend over about two feet more to pick them.
The tomatoes didn’t seem to produce anymore but maybe got taller. Pretty well the same results with the jalapeños. If I were to trim anything, in my personal opinion, would be the leaves of the tomatoes touching the ground.
Far as fertilizing, folks, especially tomatoes, if you have access to turkey or chicken manure, put it on your ground after fall harvest and till it in. I have an abundant supply around here but here is a warning: like I said after fall harvest because it is a hot fertilizer and will burn your plants up probably if applied in the spring.
One more warning, if you have close neighbors while applying turkey manure you could have trouble! The smell is very pungent but is a fantastic fertilizer for maters.
Final Thoughts on Whether to Prune or Not to Prune
So to answer the original question I can only give you the answer for me and my set-up, final answer Not to Prune!