Two Complicated Ways to Stake Your Tomato Plants

So the latest issue of Grit features an article “Four Easy Ways to Stake Your Tomato Plants.”  One of them even sports a cool name – the “Florida Weave”.  Well, how I am staking my plants isn’t “easy” by any stretch of the imagination. But I thought I would share, since so far they have worked REALLY well.

Complicated stake 1: The cherry & grape tomatoes – which might as well be weeds because they just keep growing, and growing, and growing – are woven through a structure my husband built specifically for this purpose.  It’s very sturdy and reinforced at the top corners because of the fierce winds we get through our yard.  There are three plants on each side, one cherry and two “jellybean” grapes (one red, one yellow), and they are woven through each layer of the trellis as they grow.  The plants will eventually grow across the top. The space underneath features marigolds and pepper plants.

Cherry and grape tomatoes “staked” with a trellis-like structure.

Complicated stake #2 – I’ll call this one “On the Fence”.  The two slicing tomato plants are  planted along a fake fence, so the branches can be spread out across the “fence” to allow maximum air circulation and easy access to fruit, and suckers and tomato hornworms that need to be removed.   The branches are held in place with plant tape, and for some particularly heavy fruit, held up.  The Beefsteak:

Beefsteak tomato spread eagle on an artificial fence.

The Brandywine:

Brandywine tomato spread eagle on a “fence”.

And a not-so-complicated stake, to round out the post.  Here’s my last tomato plant – no complicated staking for the Roma. It’s the only determinate tomato variety in the garden this year, so it’s only got a double-stacked cone cage.

Roma tomato in a standard cage available at hardware stores.

The pieces of “fence” supporting the Brandywine and Beefsteak form an “L” shape, and the Roma is planted in the space inside the “L”.

I’m extremely happy with how these structures have worked – there’s nothing I would have done differently.  …except to start the plants earlier, so we’d already be up to our eyeballs in tomatoes. It’s the beginning of August, and we’re only starting to get salad tomatoes turning.  But oh, the tomatoes…

(The other thing I love is that there are NO splits in the tops of the slicing tomatoes this year.  We have been vigilant in using the drip irrigation system to make sure the plants get a consistent amount of water, and the results have been worth it!)

For fun, I dug up this picture of my cherry tomatoes from last year.   The poor things WAY overgrew their folding tomato trellis, and became a nightmare to care for. I let them go rotten on the vine rather than trying to reach in that mess to try picking them!  So maybe my stakes are over-engineered…now you know why!

Tomato Mess
Tomato stake fail! (From last year’s garden)

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