Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How do you Stake your tomatoes?

How do I stake up my tomato plants is a question I receive all the time. My answer is, whatever works for you. When I was a kid, my dad would use my broken hockey sticks, cut off the blade, or what remained thereof, and use them as stakes for his tomato plants. He would then secure the tomato plants to the hockey stick by loosely tying them with some type of string, twine, old t-shirts and even mom's ripped pantyhose. He was a resourceful guy.

There are various other ways to stake up tomatoes and I wanted to cover just a few. First I wanted to start with the method I use to prop up my tomatoes, and that is the use of tomato cages. Regardless of whether you use the round tomato cages, triangular tomato cages or square tomato cages, the concept of their use is the same. Simply push your tomato cage into the soil so that your tomato plant sits in the center. As the tomato plant grows, you will have to do some maneuvering of branches so they don't get "stuck" as they try and grow upwards.

As mentioned earlier with the method my father used, you can use stakes or poles to prop them up. As with the tomato cage method, you will have to do some maneuvering. With the stake method, you have to attach them to the tomato stake with string or twine. They even sell velcro plant ties which are great. You can move them rather easily when you have to make adjustments.

Although I have not used these myself, I have seen in use spiral tomato plant supports. The way these work is very simple.The idea is to eliminate the part where you tie them to the stake by weaving your tomato plants as they grow, through the spiral. They come in heights of 4 to 6 feet, which is ideal for most varieties of tomatoes.

Another excellent method is creating your own trellis where there are poles on each end with some twine at various heights connected between them. This tomato propping method is most commonly called the Florida weave. As the tomato plants grow, you weave them in between the strings on the trellis.

Finally, just let them be. Some gardeners I know do not even stake up their tomatoes at all. They lay down some black plastic tarp over the soil, then let the tomatoes simply grow along the ground. Of course this method makes your plants susceptible to a lot things, but if going 100% natural is what you are looking for, then this is it.

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