Start pruning tomatoes and squash

I mentioned this near the end of a recent post but wanted to make sure you know that it's time to start pruning back your tomato plants and vining plants like squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers.

I hate to even bring up the notion of the first frost but we're potentially a month from cooler temperatures.

Why is this important? The plants mentioned above have fruits on them that need to ripen prior to the frosts, yet they are still blooming and growing. At this point, you need to do something to force the plants to focus on ripening the fruit that's already on the vines. They certainly don't need to bloom anymore because there just isn't enough time left in our season for those flowers to develop into mature tomatoes or squash.

What I like to do is to prune off any tall or excess growth on my tomato plants, being careful not to snip off branches with green tomatoes on them. The same thing applies to my squash and pumpkin plants. Their vines will keep growing if you don't start pinching them back.

I know it's painful to chop off a bunch of branches or shorten the vines, but it will be well worth the effort, come harvest time.