Cutting off small tomatoes & peppers at end of season to encourage ripening of big fruits!
At the end of the season, should I cut off tiny peppers/tomatoes and flowers to encourage ripening of big fruits? When doing so, a lot of new leaf growth on top comes off too. My main question is: when doing this pruning, does the plant exert more energy to ripen fruits OR exert more energy into repairing cut ends? Also, does pruning like this change the plants hormones or growing stage that might slow down the ripening? Or maybe keeping the plant in this new growth stage will keep the big fruits ripening faster? To prune or not to prune at end of season to encourage ripening? Also same with vining melons and squash? Thanks so much? I've been doing this for years but maybe I'm doing more harm than good.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Removing the growing tops of the tomato and pepper plants is thought to be an effective technique for encouraging ripening of the rest of the tomatoes. So yes, you should remove any stem that still has flowers or flower buds on it to prevent them from developing further. This should help the remaining fruits ripen. I am not sure about whether removing small tomatoes/peppers helps, but it seems like it should.
Some people prune squashes and melons, but this is mostly to limit the plant's size. Removing the smaller fruits is thought to help the vines focus on making larger fruit, but may reduce overall yield.
At least for indeterminate tomatoes, pruning at different times during the growing season is recommended for maximum yield: