Dumb question re: support for determinates

sunnibel7 Md 7(7)January 20, 2013

Ok, maybe this is dumb, but everything I can find about supporting tomato plants has to do with indeterminants. It has been a long time since I grew any determinates, and that was a different garden with less sun and I was inexperienced and without proper tools- they didn't fare too well. This year I am giving a hybrid determinate a try, to see how I like them for certain "jobs" and to see how it does with its various resistances.

Anyhow, I keep reading that a determinate may not need support at all (seems unlikely, at least in our humid, fungal paradise) or that you can cage them with those flimsy looking wire cones, but what else? Could I just tie each one to a stake? I have a limited number of large cages that I want to reserve for my indeterminates, but a fairly good supply of stakes. The plants I am going to grow are described as small to medium sized, what ever that means. Cheers!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Stakes are fine. If you have enough stakes make a tripod out of three of them. You can tie to the legs of tripod or loop cord around them to make a sort of cage as needed. The 4 ring wire cones, the quality heavy duty ones, can work IF you stake the cage.

And if you plant more than one of the plants next to each other you can also rig up a low Florida weave for the plants using a couple of stakes.

Dave

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:36AM
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crazyoldgoose(7a)

We used to do acres of Supersonics and Mountain Prides (I think they were determinates) with the Florida Weave technique and they worked great.

Crazyoldgoose in Md

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 4:02AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Thanks! Do you think my 3 ft stakes will work for that (weave) or should I rustle up my larger ones? I have more of the smaller ones, that is all. I do plan on putting at least 3 in per planting, 2-3 plantings. I figure that's enough to give me an idea on their robustness and flavor and compare yield to my other varieties. Cheers!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 11:47AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I think 3 ft stakes are to short, especially after you drive 6-8" of them into the ground. Then the weave starts about 1 foot up the stake. At least 5 foot stakes recommended.

Dave

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 2:06PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

So just keeping the bottoms from flopping into the dirt won't do, ok. The 3 ft stakes are good for marking, but I guess not much else. Well, it's ok, I do a lot of marking. Cheers!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 4:05PM
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pretty.gurl(5)

I had to stake mine last year because of the strong winds in this region. The problem with determinates is that they are so sturdy that a gust will break off limbs or a top. By the way, I grew husky cherry tomatoes. An awesome plant.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 8:42PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Take 2 3' stakes, overlap the two ends by about 6 inches and secure well with nails or ring clamps. You have a 5 1/2 foot stake.

Dave

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 9:06PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

OMG Dave! I love you! That is so simple! I have nails, lots of nails. Probably need a couple per stake to prevent loosening over the season, maybe...

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

If you use nails, you might want to drill pilot holes to avoid splitting the stakes.

Betsy

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:35AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Thanks, I was thinking of using the long finish nails since they are slender, but more than one option is always good!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:07PM
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cindy_7

There's always duct tape, too.

Cindy

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 3:34PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I almost spit out my tea, you made me laugh! That would utterly be my husband's solution, as it is for so many things. I have developed an (unreasonable according to him) aversion to seeing things duct taped together. I think it is because for too long it seemed to be the unifying theme in our home decor... But yes, duct tape would work, especially if I found some that was a nice olive drab color.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:48AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hose clamps work best. Cheap, like a nickel each, easy to apply, long lasting, no pre-drilling required, available in lots of sizes and at any hardware store.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of hose clamp

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 1:12PM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

I grow most of my determinates in containers, because I consider them mostly a waste of garden space. However, I have grown a few I wanted to plant in soil.

I make cages for indeterminates from standard CRM. I made a few cages for determinates. I used standard 5' CRM, but cut it to length (3 1/2'), by cutting it "around the roll" to a 3 1/2" length, then rolled it "against the grain".

If you grow any "compact" or "dwarf" tomatoes, you can do what I do to cage my peppers. My pepper cages are made from 5' CRM, cut 2' high + 6" spikes to stick into ground. (These can be made by cutting 5' CRM into 2, 2 1/2' tall sections. These also work for some short determinate tomato plants I grow in containers, if cut to the proper diameter (6 squares for my containers).

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:42AM
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barrie2m_

dscpa, your methods are contrary to most standards. Cages are usually more desirable for det. varieties and staking or trelising for the taller indt. varieties. I wouldn'd condemn any method that keeps the fruit clean, including putting a mat of straw under plants if you can demonstrate success with the method.

Many years ago I purchased a few thousand 30" cages at an auction and I have since used them to my satisfaction for field grown det. varieties. For indt. varieties I stick to using the framework of my greenhouses to hold stringlines to which the tomato stems are clipped. Many of those indt. varieties, especially cherry/grape types, will grow to 15+ feet in height in a season and I know of no stakes available commercially to provide the needed support.

I'll be growing more dwarf varieties this year than ever before to sell as potted plants but for my own harvests I'll stick with full size plants. I would never say that the dwarf plants or any others are a waste of garden space but I'll note that every growers desires are unique. Some of us would never go to bother supporting peppers or eggplants.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 9:39AM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

bmoser:

"Some of us would never go to bother supporting peppers or eggplants."

You would if you lived where you received annual 70mph wind like I do, or all your peppers and eggplants would be broken off at ground level.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 12:39AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

because I consider them [determinates] mostly a waste of garden space.

Oh wow - gotta disagree with that statement. There are many really great determinate varieties.

On the other hand, most cherry varieties ....... :)

Dave

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:24AM
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LauraTaylor123

In my experience, determinate plants do not stay small and bushy. The just don't grow as large or for as long as the indeterminate varieties. I support all tomato plants in the same way, with stakes at the center stem and a sturdy cage around the plant. This all goes in immediately after planting the tomato in the ground or in the container. Tomato roots grow very quickly so you want to get stakes and cages in before the roots can be disturbed or broken.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:56PM
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barrie2m_

That is a good point Laura. Waiting too long to install any support can have undesirable consequences. Also, much advantage of a cage is lost if the plant grows out through a lateral opening of the cage if installed early and not tended to. I've not combined stakes with my cages and occasionally I will admit that a few plants may topple temporarily due to a windy storm. If I had regular 70 mph winds like growers in Kansas I believe I would be using using multiple stakes for each plant.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 10:20AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hey, don't knock the cherry toms, they are my favorites!! :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:43AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

If you use trellis for determinates you can get a larger harvest per square foot. I learned this from seeing a small farm show how they had a whole field of determinate tomatoes that where not staked. They said how it is not worth the work to stake them as far as profit goes.

When your just the home gardener looking for the highest yield per given space, then staking them would allow them to hold more fruit.

I plan to grow tons of determinate tomatoe along a 3 foot fence this year and I think I can use the fence as a 'trellis' too!

Happy growing everyone!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:08PM
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barrie2m_

I don't believe the issue is so much of the plant being able to hold the fruit because whether or not one stakes the plant may still have branches laden with fruit break over. But the percentage of quality marketable fruit will increase due to some form of support. The added attention given to support usually has rewards for the home or market gardener; the commercial grower for a processing market may not feel that staking costs are worth the return.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 7:27PM
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