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I battled early blight last year, so this year I laid down a thick bed of grass clippings as mulch in my raised beds to prevent splashing of the dirt onto the plants. Last night, simply out of habit, I used scissors to cut off the the lower leaf stems that were touching the grass. Do I even need to do this? I actually hate how the first foot or so of my plants look like empty stems instead of lush plants.

I am wondering if the open wounds I just created near the main stem are now increasing my chances of getting disease more than if I just left the lower leaves alone.

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It's not necessary, if you're mulching. I don't do it in any case, but it can help prevent blight when the plants are over bare soil. The cuts shouldn't really cause disease either - they'll dry off fast. It's just unnecessary to clip 'em off, over a grass clipping mulch.

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  • I've had some indeterminate cultivars put out great long lower stems that do not produce tomatoes. Sometimes pruning such suckers is a good plan: gardening.about.com/od/totallytomatoes/qt/Tomato_Suckers.htm – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 19 '15 at 11:24
  • I've staked for years. I had some black aluminum fencing leftover from my yard and used the skinny posts to make a trellis this year. I plan on suckering for the first few feet and then getting lazy. It's fun early in the season and then becomes a pain. – Evil Elf Jun 19 '15 at 12:49
  • @WayfaringStranger, In the question, he mentioned cutting the lower leaves, not suckers/stems. That's why I answered how I did. – J. Musser Jun 19 '15 at 21:48
  • @J.Musser Sure, just wanted to point out low stems are often a different matter. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 19 '15 at 22:24
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I am cutting my lower leaves frequently this year, as I train the tomato plants up a trellis. I have two of each type of tomato planted together, and will limit each plant to 2 or 3 good stems off the main trunk. I think of it as Bonsai tomato growing.

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