06 Oct 2016 No Comments
I’ve struggled with this issue for years. What is the best method to support my tomato plants?
I’ve tried tomato cages. However, once the tomato plant becomes a healthy size and produces big, fat beautiful tomatoes, the cage can fall over, breaking my tomato branches.
The cages are also hard to remove once the tomato plants have finished producing. I’ve tried bamboo stakes, propping my tomato plants up from all sides, yet this system doesn’t provide the lateral support my tomato branches need.
It becomes very difficult to sustain growth when heavy tomatoes droop and drop. And during heavy winds, bamboo stakes can easily fall over. Heavier stakes work nicely, yet encounter the same problem once the tomatoes grow and fill out. (That’s soft plant tape shown above.) There is no lateral support.
Then there was my experiment with the Florida Weave system.
It was a great idea, except that the twine gave way to humidity, rain and wind. The natural material stretched, causing it to lose support. Not good when “support” is the goal.
This season, I’ve gone back to using solid stakes combined with solid cable, interspersed with bamboo (shown above). The green cable is actually a clothes line found at the hardware store. Two levels of cable line were run to ensure that my tomato plants will have lateral support as well as stalk height support. I’ll secure the plants to the cable using soft plant tape. Tape will minimize any damage to the tomato branches. Bamboo stakes will then be placed in and around the cable system to help keep the plants in place.
And yes, that’s basil in between the tomato plants. Basil and tomato are good companions in the garden, with basil said to improve the flavor of the tomatoes. Perfect!
As always, don’t forget to pinch your suckers. You know, those little sprouts that pop up between your tomato branches. You don’t want leggy, scraggly plants which is what you’ll get if you allow these “suckers” to suck the life out of your tomato plant. Instead, remove them and direct all of the plant’s energy into one or two main stalks.