Staking issues - HELP

Kimadano(4a)July 15, 2014

I walked into my garden this morning to find two of my tomato plants toppled over. I have previously used metal wire cages, but due to planting 44 vines this year, I decided to use bamboo poles instead. Things were going well, until my plants (now over five feet tall) have caused the poles to snap. These are fairly thick pieces of eight foot tall bamboo, but they appear to be rotting beneath the soil as they are right in the watering zone of my drip system. Any ideas on how to salvage/retake these tomatoes before they all fall over?

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I would get some metal "T" poles and drive them in just beside the rotting bamboo poles. Over the years, I've used just about everything and the only to stand up to all things coming to it is the T-pole.

it was just a few days ago that I finally gave away my last "wooden" poles. That batch included some bamboo and some oak poles. There were also some poles that I had used my tablesaw to rip up some "2-by" lumber. Pine, poplar, and a few sycamore poles in that group. I have also used treated lumber and ripped some 2 X 2's. All eventually fell due to either rot or extreme weather.

At a little over $4 a pole, they're a bargain because they last forever.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Thanks for the response containerted. Can you describe what a t pole is. I found seven foot t-posts at home depot, but up here in the great white north they are 15 bucks each. Multiply this by 44 and you can see I would have some real expensive tomatoes!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

$15 bucks! Wow down here the 6' T posts are only $3.87 and even that could get expensive. You'd do better to switch to cages rather than stakes. Or look into cattle panels. Lots of discussions here about them and down here the 16' long ones are only $17. Hauling them home is the big issue for many.


Here is a link that might be useful: HD - 6

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Well, I use 6 footers, and they are not that expensive here. Basically, they are those metal fence posts that folks around here string up barbed wire on to section off a pasture or whatever. You drive them into the ground with a small sledge hammer or a pole driver made especially for them. The bottom of each pole has a "blade" of sorts attached to help stabilize the pole. Otherwise, if you look at the top or the bottom of the pole, the metal forms a "T" shape - thus the name. There are protrusions or bumps alsong its length to help wire retainers from slipping up or down.

I'm sure that you can find a lower price on one or more of your trips away from your current location. they'll fit easily into a car or truck. Get a few at a time and soon ..........

BTW, I just bought another 20 and paid only $4.24 each. They'll last for more than 20 years. How much did you spend on the poles that failed?? And how often do you have to buy them? If you make them, Then how much is your time worth?

Maybe I just look at the long haul and what are the returns on my expenditures.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:20PM
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kimadano: here's my setup now for smaller varieties I imagine one could double up the hogwire with some rebar support stakes for tall vining varieties.

And here's what I used last year for tall indeterminates.

Scroll down to my maters in each thread.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:24PM
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Thanks for the responses. Sometimes we get totally screwed on the prices of things up here. I built raised planter boxes with 2x10x10 dimensional lumber. I have 8 4x10 boxes. That was 24 pieces of lumber at $16 a pop. Not even cedar! Needless to say, my pocketbook is still stinging. The bamboo was cheap @23 cents each, but maybe I got what I paid for.... Would driving a small piece of rebar parallel to the poles be an option? I have access to eight pieces as a stopgap. Has anyone tried using an overhead brace with string trailing down for staking tomatoes? Too late for this year I know, but a better option moving forward?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:36PM
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I've tried rope in the past and its just a pita. Actually, if you go back to my thread from last year, I drove rebar a couple feet down and slipped electrical conduit over it for my cantaloupe tresllis. I'm sure you could do the same thing with the bamboo... probably need a ladder to slip the rebar into the bamboo. If you were to just stake the rebar next tohe bamboo, that would be fine also, but make sure you use pantyhose or something where you tie off your plants to keep the vines from rubbing against the very hard rebar.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:48PM
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We use the Florida Weave method for growing rows of tomatoes. We insert a 10' rebar at the beginning of the bed and then every 8' feet or so till the end of the bed. As the tomatoes grow we "weave" baling twine from the first rebar to each tomato making sure we cross the baling twine before AND after each plant to the next rebar and tie it off and continue down the row. As the plants grow we add another level of baling twine. By the end of the season we have an impenetrable wall of tomato plants that don't fall over with the sun reaching all the plants and all tomatoes. We found this the best method of growing a lot of tomato plants. Tomato cages are a waste of money because your tomato plants will soon outgrow them and you are out of luck with plants toppling over the top, breaking or tomatoes not getting enough sun. Do a Goggle search for Florida Weave for growing Tomatoes to see drawings and/or photos. It's a no-fail system!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:48PM
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well, I would not recommend the cattle panels because of the cost factor. They do seem nice and sturdy. T posts are really quality items that last a lifetime. I suspend concrete reinforcement wire between the posts. I have found 8 footers...which are really nice. Tomato support is usually under-shot by newbies. Planning ahead is the best approach (I learned the hard way).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:56PM
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My favorite method is a 3/8 in. but you can use 1/2in. rebar about 4 feet long. Drive this into the ground 12 in. and us a piece of schedule 40 pvc tube as long as you want to slide down over the rebar and tie off your plants to the pvc.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Well, I think rebar would definitely help your efforts. I mean, T-poles are steel and rebar is steel. If that's a cheaper alternative, then go for it. The Bamboo may have just the right amount of rigidity to make that rebar be your best gardening friend.

Over the next few months, you might keep a sharp eye out for some of the T-Poles. Even the ones most people don't want anymore (bent, rusted, etc.) are good for tomato supports. If you can gather enough and then score some fencing (4 inch squares for openings), you can use a t-pole every 8 feet to support the fence and the fence for tomatoes to climb on.

Good luck. I think we have given you some things to think about that will save you money or effort in the long run.

Take care and let us know how it goes.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:29PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Bamboo is too weak for indet tomatoes. It is ok for peppers an eggplants.

I agree, 3/8" rebar works fine and will last for ever.

If you don't trim/prune your indet plants , you will need more than one stake, maybe 3 of them. In that case you are better off spending some money o a quality 6ft tall cage, not the el cheapo 3 ring ones. JMO

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:30PM
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Thanks to everyone that has commented. I started gardening about four ears ago, and have learned a ton, but trial and error can be a slow way to go! I may have another question... or twenty! Appreciate all the feedback!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:43PM
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I got some of my metal T-posts at an auction, But got most of them free, A crew was doing road work and when there done they were going to just throw everything away so I asked for the posts and they said sure you can have them, So you might want to check construction crews that are doing road work and let the tax payers buy them for you.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:50PM
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