Now that your tomatoes are planted and growing strong, before they get too big, now is the time to think vertical. Tomatoes will naturally sprawl on the ground if left on their own. This leads to more disease on the leaves and fruits and lower production over all. The best solution is to elevate your tomatoes by keeping them growing vertical all summer long. Not only will your plants be happier, you'll be able to save space, too!
There are many ways to trellis your tomatoes so they don't flop over. Here's some of the most common.
• Stakes- Use wooden or metal stakes pounded into the ground next to the transplant and tie the tomato stem to the stake using VELCRO® Brand Garden Ties. Consider using different colored plant ties for different varieties as a key to help you remember which variety is where in your garden. Pinch off any suckers that form so the plant doesn't out grow the stake.
• Cages- Purchase or make wire cages to place around individual plants. For large sized heirlooms varieties such as 'Brandywine', build the cage, or buy one, so it stands about 5 feet tall. Smaller tomato varieties, such as 'Celebrity', may be okay with a smaller cage. For big varieties, you may also have to anchor the cage to the ground, or to a stake, and attach the cage to the stake with a VELCRO® Brand ONE-WRAP® Tie to keep the cage and mature plant from toppling over in a storm.
• Hanging String Trellis- For gardeners growing lots of tomato plants, consider a hanging string trellis system. Drive metal stakes into the ground about 15 feet apart in a row. Run a strong wire between the stakes 5 feet high. Hang twine down from the wire above individual plants and attach it to the growing tomato stems. Attach more twine or wrap it around the stems to keep the growing tomato plants vertical.