Image by Tiffany Washko
By Heather Rhoades
Staking tomato plants is an excellent way to improve the quality of the tomatoes you will harvest and helps to keep the tomato plants healthier. Finding the best way to stake tomatoes depends on a few factors in your garden. Keep reading to learn more about three common ways to stake tomato plants.
The tomato cage
A tomato cage is probably the most common way to stake tomatoes off the ground. Frequently people purchase a tomato cage at their local super store or hardware store. These tomato cages are convenient but are rarely adequate support for a full grown tomato plant.
Instead, consider investing in a homemade tomato made from chicken wire or concrete reinforcement wire.
The tomato cage method for staking tomatoes is the best way to stake tomatoes in a medium to large size garden with plenty of storage space. It also allows the plants to grow without having to prune the tomatoes.
The “original” way to stake tomatoes, this method involves tying the tomato plant to a stake or stick stuck in the ground. Tomato stakes are normally made of wood, bamboo or plastic and you can now find spiral “self supporting” tomato stakes at hardware stores and nurseries. This method is the easiest of the three methods to start, but, requires the most effort to maintain.
Plants grown on tomato stakes must be checked daily during active growth and tied to the stake as they grow. The gardener must also make sure that the tomatoes are tied securely enough so that the weight of the fruit won’t pull it down, but not so tightly that the plant would be damaged. You must also make sure the stake is tall enough to accommodate the full grown size of the plant.
This method is the best way to stake tomatoes in all size gardens and does particularly well for container grown tomatoes where space is limited. Tomato plants do best with this method if the tomatoes are pruned to grow on a single stem.
Tomatoes on strings
Growing tomatoes on strings is a relatively new method that has seen increased popularity in small farming operations. It involves tying the tomato at the base of the plant and then to an overhead crossbar. The tomato plant is then trained up the string as it grows.
Like with tomato stakes, the plants must be checked daily during active growth to but the taunt string provides just enough tension to support a fruit laden tomato plant without being so tight that it damages the plant.
Growing tomatoes on strings is the best way to stake tomatoes in a garden that wants to make the most use of limited space. Tomatoes can be easier to train if they are pruned, but this is not absolutely necessary as additional string can be tied to any additional branches that grow.
Whether you use a tomato cage, tomato stakes or grow tomatoes on strings, one thing is certain. Staking tomato plants will improve your chances of success.