Tomatoes were my gateway to gardening. Staking tomatoes however, was a chore. I hated the cheap tomato cages that never seem to last more than one season but I really didn’t think there was any other way to do it.
Why Stake Tomatoes?
Staking tomatoes isn’t necessary in all climates, but it is a requirement in ours.
First, there are two different growth patterns for tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes grow more like a shrub as they get to a certain height and don’t grow much taller. Indeterminate varieties are like a vine; they continue to grow until either you top them, or it freezes. Determinate varieties don’t require as much support as indeterminate ones. Your seed packet or plant tag should tell you the growth pattern of your chosen varieties.
I live in a very damp climate in the Pacific Northwest. Even though our “dry” season in the summer can be as long as 10 weeks long with no measurable rain, we often wake up to foggy, damp mornings as you can also see in the video. In these types of conditions, it is essential to keep tomato plants off the ground to prevent blight.
Staking Tomatoes with Cages
Now, I’m not talking about those puny galvanized cages you find at the hardware store or garden center. As you’ll see in the video below, we use heavier gauge, vinyl-coated cages. The ones we have right now have lasted more than 10 years and are still going strong. Cliff did have to spot weld one of them where the ring separated from the leg, but otherwise they’re in great shape!
Staking Tomatoes with Twine
Ok, so this isn’t “staking” the tomatoes in the literal sense, but it is keeping them off the ground and giving them support. In this case, we used what we already had on hand, 2 short T-posts and a ball of twine. I put one T-post in each end of the bed and strung the twine between them, holding the tomatoes up with the twine. Twine at 2 or 3 heights on the post is plenty to keep the tomatoes upright.
There are many ways to stake tomatoes and here I’ve outlined just the 2 we are using this year. I hope I gave you some ideas for supporting your tomato plants. What method do you typically use? Tell us in the comments below!