Tomatoes Need Support
Good cages allow tomato vines to grow vertically, keeping fruit and leaves out of the dirt. The vertical position also provides better air circulation around each plant, helping prevent diseases. There are several ways to provide the support tomatoes need.
Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.kansasgreenyards.org
Tomatoes Need Support
One important factor when growing tomatoes is that you need to help them to grow vertically. Keep them off the soil. Tomatoes, especially, are one of the vegetable plants that are prone to diseases, and a lot of those diseases originate in the soil. So, if you can keep the plants growing upright, that can help with the disease organisms splashing on them. And, it can also help with air circulation, so the plants dry out after irrigation and after rain.
There are a couple different types of staking methods. These are just some simple tomato cages. The type of tomato cages to use depends on the type of tomato you have. This one you can tell is pretty flimsy. Usually, it’s a little bit more economical cage, but it’s also one that’s not going to last as long. If you have a very large vined tomato – by the end of the season – it can completely push this type of cage over. Sometimes you’ll need, during the growing season, to get an additional stake, just to support the cage and to keep the cage upright.
There are other types of cages that are up to seven or eight feet tall, and they’re a lot stronger. They’re more expensive to start with. But, if you’re going to be an avid tomato grower they’re probably worth the investment. That’s because they really help contain a large vined tomato variety.
You can also stake tomato plants. You have one single pole, stake, or rebar for instance, that’s right next to the plant. And then, as the tomato plant grows, you can tie it off loosely to the stake and encourage it’s upright growth.
There are a couple of different items you can use to tie plants off. There are some Velcro plant ties that you can get at your garden center. These have Velcro on them and you can cut them to different lengths. It comes as a roll. You can easily take them apart, re-velcro it back on, and that way you can change placement throughout the season. This little guy, in a couple of weeks, I’ll be tying the first one around him on the main branch. You just loosely tie them off.
Other items you can use include string or raffia. You don’t have to get too fancy with ties. If you do staking, usually it requires that you pinch off some of the additional arms. Then, you train just one central leader or trunk of the tomato plant.
This feature story prepared with Chelsey Wasem, former Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Johnson County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.