Big Boy/Big Girl Question

groovy1(New Jersey)May 25, 2008

I was planning on only growing determinate tomatoes this year because I ripped up my stakes at the end of last season and have only cages ready. I went to a reasonably reputable nursery to pick up some Romas and one other bush tomato. The gentleman behind the counter asked what I was interested in and recommended Big Boy/Big Girl, saying they were determinate, reasonably compact, and only needed to be caged.

I came home, went on line, and found out they were indeterminate.

I really don't feel like putting a Florida weave back up this year (that's what I did last year with decent results). Can anyone let me know if I can cage the big boy and big girl or if you'd recommend that I stake them. If you recommend caging, could you also recommend how to prune them so I don't 'lose them' like I lost other indeterminates a few years in a row?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I haven't grown Big Girl but have grown Big Boy and it is indet and will cage nicely as to almost ALL indets. No need to prune them at all unless you want to take off a few branches at the bottom of the plants, whereas if you stake them you have to prune heavily to 1-2 leader stems.

I think caging is much better than staking.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 5:53PM
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groovy1(New Jersey)

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks a lot for the response. Years ago I grew a few indeterminates and I caged them, they became HUGE and were so heavy that the cages couldn't support them, that's why I turned to staking them, I thought I was doing something wrong.

So I could simply prune them at the bottom? Should I remove any number of the suckers as well, or would they still remain manageable inside the cage? Thanks again for any help, I don't want to get myself in another mess like I was in a few years ago!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 6:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First we need to clarify what you mean by "cages"? ;) Real 5 foot tall CRW cages or the 3 ring things that are oten sold as tomato cages but can't support a tomato no matter the variety.

Both Big Boy and Big Girl do very well in the real 5' tomato cages with little or no sucker pruning. But all of us who use cages learned the hard way that the cages themselves do have to be staked in some fashion to keep from toppling.

I need also to point out that there is a "bush" variety of Big Boy now available some places but the word bush is a part of the name. Any chance these are Bush Big Boy?

Dave

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 6:42PM
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groovy1(New Jersey)

Hi Digdirt,

No, these aren't Bush Big Boy, they were just labeled 'big boy'. Also, yes those ringed cages were the ones I was using. So I will look for the taller, sturdier cages and will stake them. Should I expect the smaller nurseries to carry them, or a bigger chain like Home Depot?

Mark

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 8:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Should I expect the smaller nurseries to carry them, or a bigger chain like Home Depot?

Well Home depot carries the rolls of CRW (concrete reinforcing wire) but no, they aren't sold pre-made. You have to make the cages yourself or have someone make them for you unless you can find a gardener with extras who will sell them to you. There are many discussions here about how to make them and I'll dig up some and link them below.

Online you can order Texas Tomato Cages (http://www.tomatocage.com/intro.html) already made but they aren't cheap so most of us make our own. They last 10-15 years and all you need is the roll of wire, a tape measure, pair of pliers and a pair of wire cutters.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: CRW Tomato cage discussions...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 9:50PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Here's a picture of some made up from another forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pic of cages

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 9:55PM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Here is a picture of some CRW cages...

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 7:16AM
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groovy1(New Jersey)

Great information on here. Thank you Macheske and DigDirt!!!!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 2:30PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

You don't even need a tape measure, just count the squares. 2 squares = 1'. :-)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:57AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I also wanted to add that those rolls of concrete reinf. wire are VERY heavy. I think it helps to have 2 people. (But I'm just a weak little frail thing). ;)
I sure love mine though. Only problem I have is that I tie them together with twine, and the goldfinches keep coming and stealing it for their nests. haha

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 4:57PM
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gardenman101(Z6 Spingfield, Ma)

So how many squres to make a cage?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:29PM
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lehua49

Hi Gardenman101,

I have read from previous threads that 17" to 24" diameters is about right. Someone had eventually settled on 20" wide cages as just right. That is 8-11 squares with extra to fold end straight pieces back to lock up the cage. The pictures here show I believe approx. 9 or 10 squares. Aloha.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 11:50PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

I use 10 squares, but that is really a minimum. It gives you a 17.6" diameter cage. 60"/3.14=17.6"

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 3:52AM
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