I am thinking about building a PVC cage for my tomatoes in containers. Do I still need to stake the main stem? It seems like it would be better if I did.
I doubt you will need a stake .
So how does the cage support the plant? Do I just pull branches outside of the cage and that way the plants "lean" on the cage?
If the cages are of the right size and I have no idea what diameter yours will be, when using CRW cages the diameter is usually 22 to 24 inches and 5 ft high, you do the opposite of what you noted above.
You shove any branches that escape the cages back into the cage so there's support for the ripening fruits.
The only time I think it makes sense to use stakes with cages is if you garden in an area where there are high winds and the cages can topple over. Then it's best to use bamboo stakes or similar, but NOT next to the main stem inside the cage, rather, several stakes around each cage. And the few times I was forced to use cages I would weave the bamboo stakes between the openings of the cages and be sure they were long enough to go into the soil at least 6 inches or so.
Aha, I know you're going to ask how high the winds and I can't tell you that at all. No one can b/c no one knows where you cages will be relative to your home or other structures that would lessen the wind force. But really, I'm not talking just about normal breezes up to maybe 20-30 mph, I'm talking about high winds that usually accompany a storm.
Carolyn, who mentions again, that there's so much one learns just by growing tomatoes onesself that no one can tell you about, honestly. Again, grow more and more tomatoes, and learn from the experience is my gentle advice.
I am growing in containers that sit on concrete. Would I better off just staking?
I just noticed that you were growing in containers, I missed that the first time I read your post.
Containers that sit just on concrete in southern FL is not all that great b'c of the heat buildup.
Right now I don't know what your options are when you now bring up staking tomatoes, no cages I guess.
So, can you grow your plants inground and either stake them to two leader stems or grow them in cages, sturdy ones that you can buy.
Or can you put your containers somewheres other than on concrete?
Yes, you could use short cages with container tomatoes, the ones that are about 2-3 ft high, look like an ice cream cone and are cheap.
Surely you aren't the only one growing tomatoes where you live. What has been most successful for a Fall crop where you live when you talk to other tomato growers near you?
I'm just trying to get a clearer picture of what your options are.
Carolyn, who will be watching the US Open Tennis all day unless rain hits NYCity or even here where I am and if wicked storms here I don't use the computer. If just rain everywhere I'll read a book and have several hundreds to chose from and today I'm in the mood for some good Sci=Fi or back to England in the 1800's. LOL So carry on with others who wish to comment.
"Or can you put your containers somewheres other than on concrete?"
No, unfortunately. I live in a HOA on a golf course and they have to be hidden in a courtyard. They don't even like that I start the seedlings out back on the golf course side, but by the time they write me a letter, I have already moved them to the courtyard, lol!
"Surely you aren't the only one growing tomatoes where you live. What has been most successful for a Fall crop where you live when you talk to other tomato growers near you?"
Actually, all the people I know live in HOAs and no one is allowed to grow vegetables in their yards. I get away with it because of the courtyard but that means growing on concrete. Another neighbor of mine gets away with it because the back of his house is separated from the golf course by a lake and he hides his tomatoes behind a tree. They don't get a whole lot of sun, but he is able to grow some decent Better Boys. He uses stakes.
"I'm just trying to get a clearer picture of what your options are."
My only other option is to grow them at a relative's house where the HOA is more lenient and her neighbors don't complain. But she is 20 minutes away by car with no traffic and in season with the traffic more like 35 minutes. She is hardly ever home so I would have to drive up and back to water them and nag her to death to do it when I can't. No tomato is worth that to me!
you dont need to stake the main stem. when the branches grow out of the cage lift them up to the next rung. it will all fill in and everything is supported.
I have been using PVC cages for years. In fact, I think I can
say I invented the system.
I don't keep one main leader, I keep 4 main leaders. That
way I tie one leader to each upright.
One person I know modified my system for containers and
there's a thread with pictures. Perhaps it will help you.
Link to that thread is below.
Here is a link that might be useful: Nancysil's container setup
I plant tomatoes in cages of 22-28" diameter. I set the plants out when they are 10-18" tall. It is windy here in the spring. The cage is not going to protect them from the wind.
The wind can break the stems of 12" tall tomato plants that are not supported by a cage. Therefore, I use a lot of bungee cords to support the plants from three sides. When I run out of cords, I will use a short re-bar and a loop of rag to keep it from getting snapped off.
When the plants grow enough to put enough branches through the cage to support themselves, I try to remove all the bungees and rags.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a place where there is no wind, never-mind. The rest of us need to battle the weather.
Readers say less and know more. I read quite a bit in 10 day segments, then live out the rest of the month thinking and speaking more and more, when the situation presents itself.
Or I try to anyhow.
Carolyn, any chance you have read any Tolkien? Off subject, but the question flows into part of the thread, and the question is alone, not followed by another question, and also the writer/subject is completely relative to gardening.
some hoa's allow you to have "oramental plants" around your house (flower beds?).
if those "ornamental" plants happen to be edible or produce edible fruit... oh well :)
scotty - yes, some HOA's are more lenient than others. Mine is actually pretty lenient compared to some others in that they allow citrus trees to be planted. Personally, I hate that they allow the citrus trees to be planted since it is always the snowbirds who plant them. Then they are gone 6 months+ out of the year and no one is around to pick up the rotting fruit that is all over the ground.
The problem with tomato plants is that they look good initially, but as all of you are aware, many develop foliar diseases and then the plants look shabby.