Staking Tomatoes

Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

Hi all,

I was asked to post this with a photo. It is my way of staking tomatoes. I don't like using on stake going down through the roots so I use four stakes made from rough cut oak lumber that I can very inexpensively and binders twine. I do not rap the twine around the four stakes, I find when I support the branches that way the weight of the tomatoes will either badly bend or break the branch. Now I run the twine between two stake on a diagonal keeping the branches growing upwards and the flowering buds inside the four stakes. So far it has worked well. I hope you can see the twine, a pointed oval.

Sparks

Thumbnail by Sparks42
Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

Hi again,

I don't know how to post two photos in the same message so am adding another. This photo shows the white foam cup that I use to transfer my plnats from trays into them. Using a permanent ink felt pen I write the name of the plant on the cup then when I plant it I puncture the bottom of the cup and slide it down over one of the stakes as a record of what it is plus adding the date planted.

Sparks

Thumbnail by Sparks42
Bedford (DFW), TX(Zone 8a)

I like your idea Sparks! I'm going to give it a try with my sprawling tomatoes. I've been trying to locate hog wire to make cages...but have not been able to find it yet and my plants are in serious need of some immediate support. This is just the ticket and can be easily done with already large plants...There's no way I could shove them through a basket now LOL.
Thanks!!

Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

Hi PlantsRfun,

Glad I could be of some help. Let me know how it works out for you.

Sparks

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Looks to me like Spark's method could also be used for those of us who plant in rows...

...run stakes down one side, more stakes (offset) down the other side, then string them as he has shown. Bet they will for sure stay off the ground that way!

Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

Awww Geee Horseshoe, you are too kind but think you right, it just might work.

Sparks

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Shoe, et als,

You don't need to offset a second group of stakes. What Sparks has stumbled on is an off-shoot of the so-called Georgia Weave method.

Drive a stake on each side of several plants. I wouldn't recommend more than four in a row. About six inches off the ground, tie a cord to one of the stakes. Pass it behind the first plant, in front of the second, behind the third, etc. Wrap it around the next stake, then bring it back to the first stake, reversing the direction. This locks each plant between two cords.

Run one of these weaves about every six or eight inches as the plants grow.

I learned this technque, along with so many other things, from Bill Best at the Sustainable Mountain Ag. Center, and am using it on my containerized tomato plants. Bill runs the weave completely down his rows (I'd guess them as being 250 feet) before reversing direction. It's important, though, to have lots of stakes for maximum support. Two plants flanked by two stakes is the ideal mix.

Bill has devised a really neat way of applying the weave. The ball of twine is kept in a box just large enough to hold it (so it feeds continually from the middle, without tangling). This box is worn on his belt. The twine is fed through a wand of 1/2" PVC tubing. With that he can direct the flow of the cord without having to bend a lot.

Having tried it both ways, this is one time I recommend nylon cord, rather than a natural fiber. The jute, once it got wet, wasn't strong enough to support the plants. Hard hemp twine would work, I reckon. But just consider the cost!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I knew "the Weave" method would surface here. (Georgia Weave, Florida Weave...have heard it called both. Maybe there is a slight variation?)

I'd go with a good cord also. The jute/bailing twine I used one yr tended to stretch and not retain a nice tight support. No fun having to go back and re-adjust it all the time, especially once the plants were of large size.

I like the idea of the pvc pipe, sure would save my aching back! (Now can you come up w/a way to pick bush beans w/out bending over?)

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

>Now can you come up w/a way to pick bush beans w/out bending over?)<

Isn't that why you raise children?

Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

Hi all,

I seem to have gotten some interesting chit chat going and I personally am learning a lot. The binders twine is not the best but at least it is inexpensive. Right now I am only doing one tomato plant at a time so the saging twine is not too much of a problem. I like the idea of the PVC pipe unless the twine would slip on it. Both the nylon and the pvc would look much neater. Might have to try both next year.

Sparks

Midway, NC(Zone 7b)

Response to plantsRfun. I purchased concrete reinvorcing wire for my tomatoes from Loews. I believe the wire is 5 feet high and the openings are 6 inches square. I cut the strips long enough to make a 30 inch circle and stuck the raw edge of the wire into the ground. I found after the wind blew one over that I did need to support it,
using a couple of 2 x 2 stakes,4 foot long. There is one untasteful problem with that wire in that it is not galvanized and of course is quite rusty after 2 years of use. It also takes up some room to store for the next season, but it is the cats meow for not only supporting 10 or 12 plants, but also for reaching in to harvest them.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Sparks: I think you misunderstand the use of the PVC. What Bill does is pass the end of the twine through a short section (24 inches?) of the PVC. Then he ties the end off to the first pole, and uses the PVC wand to guide the twine in and around the plants without having to bend down.

Baldeagle: I hope I misunderstood your post. You're putting 10-12 tomato plants in a 30 inch circle? I find that hard to believe.

BTW, I am, for those who know me, the remesh mavin of all time. It's the greatest thing in the world for plant support structures and other garden uses.

For storage purposes, you might consider three different sizes: 30", 24", and 18" diameters. You can then nest them together, using only 1/3 the storage space.

If you cut off the bottom ring of the tower, you'll wind up with a bunch of 6" long legs. Sink these fully into the ground and you should have no problems with wind. I never give my towers any other support, and none of them have gone down, even when carrying the full weight of a mature tomato plant.

Bedford (DFW), TX(Zone 8a)

Hi Baldeagle,
I thought of the concrete wire but thought it was thicker and I would have trouble bending it. I'll have to check it out. I agreee with I definitely like the wire cage approach. I had hoped to getting around to finding the wire and making really tall cages with it...like 6'. In the past I used hog wire cages that are about 4 ft. tall, but those I had to retire. Found 4' wasn't tall enough. Maybe next year I'll have my act together. ;) This season with the plants already being so big I went with sparks method. Thanks for letting me know that the concrete wire is flexible.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Remesh is the softest of the fencing materials, PlantsRfun, especially since it isn't galvanized. You can bend it with your fingers, and use the side-cutters on regular pliers to cut it.

I bought a mini-bolt cutter, though, which makes the job faster and easier.

As to finding it, most farm supply, hardware stores, and some garden centers stock it. It's relatively cheap---around 50 bucks for a 150' roll.

It is, as Bald Eagle mentioned, only 5' high. But I find that to be more than enough for tomatoes. If you want taller cages, you can join two towers together either by staking or other means.

Midway, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi Brook, I did foul up the English language. I should of said that Icut the wire long enough to bring it around forming a circle with a radius of 30 inches. And you are correct, the 5 foot heighth is plenty, except that last year I overused Miracle Grow and some of the vines were about 7 foot tall. I just gave them a "butch" hair cut and they were OK. The plants provide a lot of shade, in fact, I had a purple finch build a nest in the center of one of the vines. Greetings to all, Woody

Iola, WI

OK, this is all very interesting. This is the first year I've grown "maters". The cages I bought for my 2 plants were large on the bottom & small on top. Then I saw some that were small on the bottom, going to a larger diameter on top. What's right?
Thanx
Sue

Ivinghoe Beds, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Thanks, Sparks42, you've hit on a really neat idea!

I like Brook's idea too, of twining jute string around a row of tomatoes. He confided it to me last year and I used it this year, and it works.

Another variation I've found that works really well with big heavy tomatoes, like beefsteaks, is to make a similar four-post frame. Then tie a twisted loop of pantyhose diagonally between two opposed sets of posts. (One twist in the loop holds the stems.) As the plants grow, tie another twisted loop of pantyhose about 8 inches above it - across the other two sets of posts, likewise. Keep doing that, as the plants grow.

So you build an elastic support frame.

The pantyhose will hold the heaviest fruit and restrain the tomato stems within that frame, but without harming them. It's also very resilient to high winds and rainstorms.

At season's end, you can even salvage the pantyhose for next year.

This is important because... unless you have a houseful of women (I do) it gets embarrassing - having to knock on your neighbours' doors every year, to beg their wives' discarded pantyhose...



This message was edited Monday, Jul 14th 5:55 PM

This message was edited Monday, Jul 14th 5:59 PM

Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

John, you hit the nail on the head. Think the panty hose thing would work great, I have 3 daughters but all moved away, I am nearly 80 and wife doesn't wear panty hose anymore. The neighbors are senior citizens also and not much hope there. I wonder if I could stop some of the young ladies on the street and ask them if they have any old panty hose I could have. hummmmmmm

Ivinghoe Beds, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

A safer idea might be cut some old long nylon socks in half lengthways, so the strips remain tethered together at the toe. Spindle them and they can be knotted together to form a strong rope. Two socks should give you one long tomato tie.

But they must be 100% nylon or nearly so. They're weatherproof. Cotton socks rot in days!

Lexington, NC(Zone 7a)

Doggone it John, I aint got no nylons. Oh well, will just have to keep on truckin with what I do got. So far its working fine.

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