The majority of the tomatoes that I grow are heirloom, which grow tall and become heavy. Because of the height and weight of the vines, I stake my cages down so they can can support the plant and fruit once it is produced. A flimsy tomato cage won’t do with these type of plants. Learned that lesson the hard way.
Some of my plants have grown 6 – 7 feet tall, and have gotten heavy enough to topple my cages. Once this happens, it’s hard to pull the vines up without damaging them. My tallest cage is 5 foot, so they need some help in keeping them steady and strong enough to support the weight of the tomatoes on the vines. The cages shown were purchased from Tractor Supply. They are the best cages that I have ever purchased. I went back to purchase more the next season, but they no longer carried them. As sturdy as they are, they still need to be staked.
You can see my staking method above, simple and budget friendly:
- I purchased 6 foot fence stakes from Lowes.
- After planting the tomato plant and placing the cage around it, I pushed the stake deep into the ground directly beside the cage.
- I tied the cage to the garden stake with garden ties. You can purchase the ties from your local garden center. I buy the rolls.
- For the heavier cages I used one stake, but for the lighter and smaller cages I would suggest that you use 2 stakes depending on the type of tomato you’re planting.
- It’s important that you stake the cages when you first plant your tomatoes; otherwise, you risk damaging the roots of your plants.
The cages in the picture below, blue, red, light green and yellow, were purchased from Lowes. Pretty colors, but not the same quality as the ones from Tractor Supply even though they were the same price. Last year, I used the smaller cages for my hybrid tomatoes. Hybrids don’t get as tall or as heavy as heirloom tomatoes, but I still suggest supporting them. A strong wind can topple these cages and more than likely will damage your plant.
This is a picture of one of my heirloom tomato plants. You can see how thick the vines are on this plant. You can also see why it’s important to support the plant early. If you don’t want to spend money on garden ties, cut up old stockings or tee-shirts into strips. Any soft material will work.
I planted 10 tomato plants last season, and found 3 volunteers. This is one of my volunteer tomato plants, below, before I staked, caged it and removed the weeds growing around it. This one needed support to keep it from leaning too. I’ve decided to leave my volunteers in the garden. If they produce I take the tomatoes to the local food bank. They appreciate fresh garden vegetables in the summer. This year I made a pledge with Ample Harvest to take tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and zucchini to the food bank.
The dressing around this volunteer is from my homemade garden compost. It is so dark and rich it is unbelievable. This is why they call it Black Gold. It’s actually decomposed leaves that I gather in the fall. You can follow the link below if you would like to learn more about my Black Gold.
If you’re using containers for your tomatoes, I would recommend that you use a 4 – 5 foot garden stake to support your plant. They can be purchased at your local garden center for a few bucks. If you’re lucky enough to have bamboo around, cut a bamboo pole and use it in your container for support.
Stay tuned for my post on How To Grow Bigger Tomatoes next week. What are you planning to grow in your garden or containers this season?
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