It's June and my tomatoes are growing strong. While I keep them well watered and protected from late frosts I also need to keep them standing tall. Most tomato varieties need a strategy to keep their fruit off the ground. I find supported fruits have less disease and insect damage making for a bigger harvest.
Tomato varieties are either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate varieties, such as 'Celebrity', grow to a certain height, while indeterminate varieties, such as 'Brandywine', keep growing and producing fruit until fall. Both types benefit from being supported. While there are lots of ways to keep tomatoes upright, here are two of the most popular.
- Cages: Wooden or metal cages allow plants to grow unimpeded while the branches are supported upright. Make or purchase at least 5 foot tall cages to insure they're big enough to handle the size and weight of your plants. I like to pound a stake next to the cage and attach it for extra strength.
- Stakes: For shorter tomatoes, or if you prune off the excess tomato foliage, attach main stems to 5 foot tall wooden or metal tomato stakes at multiple locations.
- Plant Ties: Whether supporting tomatoes with a stake or cage, I use VELCRO® Brand plant ties to attach my plants to their supports. These ties are strong enough to hold the branches in place without damaging them, easy to cut to the proper length and attach, and blend in with the foliage making them unobtrusive.
Have any questions or gardening ideas? Email Charlie and you could see them answered in his next post!