Thursday, July 28, 2011

a handy trick for staking tomatoes

Supporting and training tomatoes is an issue for the serious gardener. Over the years, I became so frustrated with those flimsy, easily broken and bendable cages that are widely available, cheap to purchase, and good if you are only doing one or two plants.

I was so impressed one year when Keith's brother Curt led us into his beautiful garden in Denver and showed us his towering, over 6 foot tall tomato plants. I'd never seen anything like it and didn't know it was possible to grow such huge, super-producing plants. He accomplished this with the help of wooden trellises that he built. (Soil enrichment/conditioning and organic fertilizer really are the key to successful gardening, I've found.)  A few years later, I was in the backyard of the Cox family here in our neighborhood and saw this idea:

I knew I'd found the answer.

Again, the same tall, excellently supported and staked plants. Not so complicated as the permanent towers, but just as effective. And less expensive.

Each year, I plant a variety of tomato plants that are set into two rows with a path in between. At Home Depot (hardware store), Keith picked up some metal fence posts, heavy gauge wire, and metal "mesh" paneling that is used in concrete work, around 4 feet high.

Keith pounded in the posts about 1 and 1/2 feet apart, with the plants centered down the middle. Then, the paneling was attached  with the wire mesh in front of the posts. As the plants get taller, I'll use some thick jute twine to tie some of the larger stems to the paneling for extra support. At the end of the summer, the plants totally fill in the space and reach the height of the paneling or even higher. I like the fact that I can reach in between the "squares" to pick the tomatoes as they ripen. Totally accessible all the way around.

I've got some Romas, Early Girl, Big Boy, cherry tomato, tomatillo, and what I thought were yellow slicing tomatoes ended up being yellow cherry tomatoes. Surprised and kind of disappointed with that one. These little guys are starting to come on now and I love it when I can pop a few, sun warmed, into my mouth.

There's nothing like homegrown tomatoes, is there? With the late start and wet weather we've had, it seems like things are a little behind. We'll see how it goes.

Hope this idea is helpful to you.
Happy Gardening!

1 comment:

  1. I have those flimsy ones myself. This looks nice and sturdy.

    I hope my tomatoes ripen this year. I love a fresh from the garden tomato too.