Stake and Tomatoes

Take it from me—trial and error gal—don’t learn this the hard way.  Your tomatoes want big stakes, firm stakes.  Sturdy, semi-permanent. They want to know there’s support for them when the wind blows, that they won’t lose their ruby-red jewels dripping from their vines.

triangle cage

Trust me when I say, “think strong” (as in men, too.;)). Next time you’re shopping for tomato cages and you see this packaged structure, walk on. Don’t stop. Don’t waste your time.

Admittedly, I thought this three-walled triangle style cage would be the secret to success. It was–for a while. But when the tomato plant grew and the tomatoes hung heavy, it fell over like a twig.

And this round, loopy one?

round flimsy tomato cage

Run!!! Not only is this contraption hard to maneuver but it falls over at Mother Nature’s first hiccup. No good.

These cones are standard operating procedure for many gardeners and not bad support-wise. Unfortunately, I’ve found they’re better suited for smaller plant variety plants like green peppers and eggplants. Tomatoes tend to get tangled and crowded in the cones and yes, some do fall over in the wind–because your tomatoes are awesome in size and grandeur!

companions tomato and basil

If you want to know what works, think old-fashioned tomato stakes. They must be substantial enough in dimension—an inch or so thickness—and long enough to go deep, deep enough to stand strong. So grab that sledgehammer and pound away. If you have a strong man nearby, ask him real nice and maybe he’ll help. Gently tie your tomato stalk in place, but too snug, that stalk will fatten.

ties too tight

I used traditional ties for my plants. I’ve tried pantyhose ties but the moisture clinging to them turned nasty and moldy. Ick.

staked tomatoes Again, I’m going traditional this season. Buy a roll of soft tomato tape and you should be good to go.  Not only will this not rub your stalk raw, it will expand as your plant grows.  LOVE it!

Here’s one for the oldies but goodies.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  That motto cannot be more true with the tried and true method of staking tomatoes.  So as your region warms, consider grabbing that sledgehammer and wooden stakes.  I used a bamboo stake in the picture to the left, but it’s not strong enough to go the distance.  My tomato plants get quite large and would require several bamboo stakes.

sturdy tomato stakes

What do you think?  Don’t those tomato plants just look happy?  (Except for the lily pad weeds carpeting the bed beneath them–they are the bane of my existence, those little buggers!)