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Supporting Tomato Plants

Posted by nutsaboutflowers 2b/3a (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 16:42

Tomato growing season again :)

Last year we took a trip into Saskatoon so I just had to stop at Lee Valley. I looked at the trelises and the spirals that were discussed in a thread last year. I purchased the trelises, as I had visions of being impaled by the spirals if we had to ever use our brakes.

As Weeper said, the trelises were very sturdy and held up the tomatoes perfectly, even in our strong winds.

Veseys sells something similar called stackable tomato ladders. Has anyone seen those or used them?

I know people use the tomato cages and also twine or rope, but as I get older I want something that is tidy with no fuss or muss. I'm just wondering about getting more trelises or trying the stackables???


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Those ladders look intriguing.

I use velcro to keep the plant attached to whatever support mechanism. It's cheap, easy and very effective.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

I saw some amazing tomato cages in a video yesterday I have not seen them in person but they fold flat for storage and are 6 ft tall - Texas Tomato Cages.

Here is a link that might be useful: space saving tomato cages


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Okay you made me do it...i bought 10 different kinds of tomato seeds for one upside down planter... you folks bring the worst out in me....!!!!


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

I prefer a 7' bamboo stake. Keep the plant to ONE stem and tie it to the stake as it grows. By the time the plant gets to the top of the stake, it's time to top it anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

I presently own round stacking ones but love the idea of folding them flat.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Yes Nuts, I have used them for years. They are super heavy duty. They don't stay red for more than a season tho, as the sun turns them a blah-pink...that okay. Here's a few lessons I've learned with them:

To use this type of support, you MUST apply some sort of pruning method, so that the main stem leans against the spine of the ladder. Also, keep this lean thing in mind to help you decide which direction to use it. The wind will blow it down if you have it sidways to the predominate direction of wind. So the spine needs to hold the wind back or hold the tomatoe against the wind. I found that for me the ladder was strongest by leaning the tomatoe towards the wind direction, instead of against.

Another lesson I learned: use the ladders only for the variety of tomato that tends to grow tall, rather than waste them on bushier plants. Simple cages will work better for those.

For my super-strong tomatoes I combine the two. Brandy Boy, for example grows HUGE! in all directions and definately requires team effort. So do my Sweet 100's.

This year I'm going with all heirlooms. (Dester, Black Icicle, Paul Robeson, Cuor Di bue, Sub-Arctic, Constoluto, white queen, Emerald Apple.)

Hope this helps.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

It most certainly does. Thanks :)


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 14, 13 at 11:05

I use the Florida Weave method with 10' lengths of rebar and twine. No pruning needed but I like to prune off most of the non-producing foliage.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Hey Pudge :)

I've used Florida weave with twine but the rain made it stretch too much. The rebar would do the trick though.

We really need a new Bubble.

I still have over 3 feet of snow. Two years ago I wrote that my bulbs were coming up on april 16th :(


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 14, 13 at 14:39

Hey NAF :) I use that plastic type of baler twine - doesn't stretch although I do need to anchor the end lengths of rebar or else they start to lean toward the middle. Some tent pegs and more twine is my fix for that.

We are also still covered in snow - no patches of grass or anything showing yet, heck there's still a bunch of snow on the rooftops that hasn't yet melted. Sick of winter doesn't even begin to describe it.

But I am starting some tomato seeds today. I have hope.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

I have tried a lot of different support methods over the years but always go back to 7' stakes. It just seems easier and have been so busy in the spring in the past. I prune the plants back to 1-2 stems and top off at 7' also.

I have not grown tomatoes in this climate yet. I am sticking to short season and cherry types this year. My seedlings are all about 2" tall now on the windowsill.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

I have a couple of tomato questions. I have one of those big trellises from Lee Valley that I mentioned to Lynn awhile ago. The rest of my trellises are shorter, but heavy duty steel cages, probably at least 20-22 inches across.

The varieties I'm planting this year are: Celebrity, Sungold cherry, Roma, and Sweet Million cherry. Are any of these particularly large(plant size)? Do I need to plant only one tomato per cage, or can 2 plants share a cage if I plant them on opposite sides? Do any of these varieties not require staking? I know sometimes the seed company will say "doesn't require staking" but in our windy prairie gardens, that often isn't true!

This is my first year with vegetables, so I have a million questions!


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Definitely need staking, Katie. In fact, Sungold and Sweet Million, both of which I also plant every year, get very tall and vine like. I use 7 foot wrought iron trellises against the fence, deck or a south facing wall and tie them up as they grow. And, even though Celebrity and Roma are both determinate (or semi) it is probably a good idea, IMO, to only plant one tomato per cage. They can probably share a common side of the cage, however, since they are not so big. You have more room to tend them and ripen on the vine if they are not too crowded. :)

I have even used an exercise pen for the dogs that folds out like an accordion with a plant on both sides. :) Welcome to the world of homegrown tomatoes! They are the subjects of my dreams all winter! :)

Ginny


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

My favourite support is a plain old wooden stake. I've found that the tomatoes ripen faster when I tie everything up to a single stake than when I cage them. Wood is less slippery to tie to than any metal stakes I've tried.

That said, I have to admit reality. Summer is busy and I rarely keep up with tying branches and when they get to be a certain size they're terribly hard to tie back to the stake without breaking the branch or pinching a cluster. That, and I never seem to be able to sink them far enough into our clay subsoil that they don't tilt to the side at least a bit at best or fall over at worst.

I've got 21 of the Lee Valley spirals and instead of using them as stakes this year, I'm going to try them in 7 tripods. I'll still be able to wind the main branches into the spiral and have more options for tying the others. We'll see how it goes. Nice that they have those little holes at the top to tie them together.

Peavey Mart sells a really heavy-duty, round, stackable tomato cage (I think they call it a peony cage, but there are more rings, like a tomato cage). We have 4 already and they last forever, unlike the easily-kinked, common tomato cages made with higher-gauge wire. I'm going to get more of those for the determinates this year and be done with it. There's only so much time in a day.

Rona had some nifty cages in stock when I was in Saskatoon on the weekend. They were round and stackable, but the base was wider than the top. Smart. Especially when you're rural and dealing with high winds. Unfortunately, I couldn't fit a stack of 10 in our car unless I left hubby and one of the kids behind in order to fold down a couple of seats. Drat.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Katie, the Lee Valley ones don't need to be used all four parts together in a cage shape. You've probably realized that already.

Your first vegetable garden. How exciting.!


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

Macky, you must have an amazing garden...and so much work to do! It sounds like it is positively enormous! I think hubby should have realized that his staying behind was a necessary and unavoidable sacrifice. ;)

Lynn, yeah, I was thinking of breaking the cages into 2 and just using the "V" shape for each plant, but I wasn't sure how steady it would be. Maybe I'll try that this year and see how it goes. My garden is in the most windy part of our yard, unfortunately, the highest point in the yard and the old elms got torn out the year we moved in, so it is unprotected on the north side. I do have a shelterbelt planted, but the evergreens won't be blocking any wind for quite a few years, and the maples will be awhile too.


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RE: Supporting Tomato Plants

That's what I thought, but... *shrug*

My sketched plan for this year plants 3,150 square feet. Some years we keep up. Many years we don't. It still produces enough to make a dent in the groceries either way. :) I've given up an 11 by 11' spot of prime dirt for the kids; that's space I usually use for tomatoes, so I'm down to only 22 toms this year.

The break in our treeline leaves us unprotected from southwest winds. This year I'm planting the corn along the west side of the garden to create a wall. I'll hill them to give them better grip. If something has to be sacrificed to wind, I'd rather it be the corn than anything else. I had the broccoli along that bed last year and lost nearly half of them, snapped right off by the high winds. :(


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