Do I really have to stake, cage, something!

dannic_az(z8)April 15, 2010

I'm trying to figure out if it's really worth it to stake tomatoes. I am on a tight budget (who isn't these days, right?) and only have either bamboo or t posts to use if I do anything at all.

So: Would it really be so awful just to let them sprawl?

If i were to use the stakes, what way would you suggest I do it?

Ditto for the bamboo.


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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

You can let them sprawl if you want. Fruit on the ground has a tendency to get rotten.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 8:37PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Lots of discussions here about various types of supports. A search will pull them up for you if interested.

But I agree with the above - sprawled fruit rots. Even with a thick layer of mulch under it. Diseases are more common and so are pests like slugs. Even the simplest stake is better than sprawling.

Try an experiment - stake or cage some and let some sprawl. See which works best for you. I'll bet that you'll never sprawl them again. ;)


    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 9:13PM
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My 2 cents:
Perhaps leting your toms sprawl could be practical if you are/were in an arid climat
and land resource is not a problem.

Yoy don't have to spend an arm and a leg to stake. There are lots of inexpensive
and even costlees ways to stake tomatoes. tree branches, bamboo, thrown away lumber, scrap pvc pipes,..
Or, with little expence you can buy a 4' rebare for about 2 bucks, an 8' pvc for a buck,..
I, myself would not spend 10 bucks for a cage. That, to me is defeating the purpose of growing for economic reason.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 10:08PM
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We are arid and have plenty of room.

I guess what I meant to say (had toddler squirming in my lap earlier, lol) was given that I live in a hot climate and have plenty of room, how big a difference will staking make?

If I were to choose to stake are the bamboo or t posts sufficient?

What is the easiest way to stake and maintain that? (I am pregnant, due in August, which is why I am trying to find the path of least resistance. THANX

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 11:46PM
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Hey Dannic_az,

I would consider doing the following;

1. Get your dear love to help you
2. Put down a plastic mulch over mounded regular mulch or soil so water doesn't pool, and
3. Sprinkle some Slug-B-Nay Nay around the perimiter of your plot when the fruit comes on.

You'll likely get some maters in good condition.

That said, if you've planted in a short row, T-posts at either end will support a "weave" of plastic twine as a support for the plants. The posts will have to driven into the ground solidly. See number one above.

Best of luck on both of your projects.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:16AM
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Probably you do not need to stake your mators, as you have described your growing conditions.
They are better off to sprawl. Staking makes most sense with rainy,
humid and lots of wet weather, to provide air circulation for the plant, get it dry and prevent moisture born diseases.
But I would suggest a very short stake (about 2 ft) to hold up the main and let the branches cascade and sprawl.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 5:41AM
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When we built our home there was an open field next to our property. I had extra tomatoes so I just plopped them in the ground with a THICK layer of straw as mulch. After the animals, slugs, snails, pillbugs, various bug larve and disease had their way with them I'd say about 66% of the tomatoes were unusable so I did manage to get about 33% good fruit. So, if I were you and were going to sprawl, I'd grow triple the amount of plants...:)

PS I planted a strawberry patch in that field and they did fine! And I let them sprawl too...LOL

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 7:36AM
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If you are going to stake then you could pound the bamboo into the ground in a triangle pattern about the plant and use bamboo that is as long as you want the plants tall plus two feet that will be in the ground. Then use twine or string and connect the posts. This should be sufficient. I have even seen the trellis method being used for vining maters. Mine are caged and I use the cages every year!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 7:56AM
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no u dont have to stake or cage / i know a couple guys who lets them sprawl out on the ground and have pretty good results / i myself cage and then use a weave when they get taller then the cage

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 9:43AM
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When I was a little girl my Mom planted her tomatoes in front of an arborvitae and just shoved the stems up into the tree as they grew.

Honestly, think about what you asked vs the reality. You asked do you really need to stake or cage. Tomatoes have been here for millenia--Mother Nature doesn't stake or cage, she grows naturally too ;-)

As as a culture we've become conditioned to accepting practices that invlove manufacture or purchase for a success, but it doesn't have to be that way. When it comes to gardening you can save yourself a lot of money and time if you simply open your mind before your open your wallet.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:07AM
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Something to consider is that if you are due to deliver in August that your ability to crawl and kneel is going to be limited pretty soon.

I let mine sprawl after they outgrew their cheap wire cages. It was a PITA to rummage through the sprawling leaves and stems to find the tomatoes. I found many more bird-damaged ones on the ground than on the caged parts. Rotting was not a problem because it was dry and they were on a really thick layer of compost and shredded tree branches. (that's an expense of you don't have a shredder, possibly more of an expense than some remesh and hog rings.

You can use all sorts of things as supports if you put your mind to thinking "what can hold them off the ground" instead of "must buy something labeled tomato cage".

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:40AM
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I forgot to mention that we have no slugs, lol.

My rows are 45' long, so in order to have a weave, I'd have to break it up, no?

I'll search around for simple staking ideas, thanks.

Oh, we do get lots of heavy wind--I'm wondering if staking won't make them more vulnerable in that regard? Thanks for your replies and suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:16PM
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dannic - You could easily do a weave by using extra posts along the row. Those metal fence posts are cheap at ranch supply stores.

My simple no-staking idea (totally untested) this year is panels of remesh on either side of the row, about a foot apart, attached to rebar stakes holding up the panels.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 10:41AM
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