You go to your local nursery or big box store and purchase some tomato plants. They’re healthy and strong, and oh look — they already have a few flowers on them or maybe even a a couple of baby tomatoes. Terrific, you think. They’re already starting to produce. What a great crop I’m going to have this year!
Sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m gazing into my tomato crystal ball, and I see your future tomato crop consisting of exactly those few tomatoes you see today — and no more. But it’s not too late, my friend. You can change this dismal prediction. All you have to do is remove those few flowers and tomatoes.
“What,” you roar loudly, “are you mad!? Yank the few flowers and tomatoes off my babies? Then I won’t get anything!” On the contrary, oh ye of little faith. Removing those early flowers and fruits is the key to your bumper crop. Allow me to explain.
A plant’s main goal in life is to continue its species. So they will always put reproductive growth ahead of vegetative growth. Your tomato plants will put all their energy from their leaves into those few flowers and tomatoes that exist now. As a result you will get a few fruits on your plants.
The operative word here is “few” — as in few leaves and few tomatoes. Your small plants don’t really have a lot of leaves right now. That translates into very little energy to put into producing a few large tomatoes. Reproduction is stressful to a plant, and can take days or weeks to accomplish. A plant needs all the energy and time they can muster to succeed and not exhaust themselves in the process. A large plant has plenty of leaves, and thus has plenty of energy to put into tomatoes. A small plant, however, does not. Your tomatoes will waste the precious little time and energy it has to give you those few fruits. Picking them will then signal to the plant that it’s time to start producing vegetation again. But guess what? It’s now August. How much time does that plant have left to produce more leaves and more fruit? Mighty little!
Pulling of flowers and small fruits while the plant is still small, however, forces that plant to produce more vegetation. Then when the plant is bigger, it will have all the vegetation and energy it needs to produce that bumper crop. And that’s what you’ve been looking for!
I know it sounds counterproductive, but sacrificing a few flowers now, will lead to more tomatoes later. So go ahead! Pull those flowers off of those tomato youngsters! You’ll thank me for it later!