Avoid tomato stakes
- Are your tomato plants a crazy tangled mess of branches that spread across the garden bed?
- Are you sick of constantly trying to secure your tomatoes to stakes?
- Do you have broken stakes? Warped or rusted ones?
The thing that I enjoy least about growing tomatoes is the yearly trip to the nursery to purchase new garden stakes to support them. Well….no more as they are not required. There is an alternate way to train tomato plants. They can be trained to grow on strings.
My Mother-in-law grows her tomato plants on string and this year she has shown me how to set them up. I have long admired her tall, thin, beautifully laden tomato plants! Last year I learned how to remove laterals from the plants to ensure that the growth is focused on fruit production rather than leaf production. Now I am ready to string them up! If you want to learn more about removing laterals you can read the post I wrote about it here.
My Mother-in-law tells me that commercial growers in New Zealand use this method for training their tomato plants.
The main benefits of this method of training the plants include:
- It is low cost – it is cheaper to use string than to purchase large stakes
- There is less risk of damaging the plant by inserting the stake into the roots or using the wrong ties to secure the plant
- It is time effective – plants do not require the use of additional ties to secure them to a stake
- It is neat
It is important to note that you need to follow the tips for growing tomatoes in this previous post I wrote to grow tomatoes in this manner otherwise the bushes will be too heavy to twist and control on a string.
You will require some type of frame to secure and run the line of string above the tomatoes. You will see from the picture of my Mother-in-laws garden below that hers are being grown in a green house. Mine are being grown between two raised garden beds that have a metal frame on each side. I used that frame to run the string across.
- Establish a line of string above your plants running horizontally across the garden bed
- Secure a line of string to the string above first and ensure there is enough length to reach the ground
- Tie the line of string that is secured above to the base of each tomato plant. Ensure that the string is taut. *Do not tie it too tightly to the base of the plant, or use a knot that can be loosened as required, to allow for growth in diameter of the stem
- Twist the plant gently around the string – to the right the first twist and then to the left etc so that it is self supporting.
- As the plant grows continue to remove the laterals and weave it around the string to continue to support
- If the plant grows to the top of the string it may then be threaded across the top of the horizontal line
I remove laterals from my plants numerous times per week to keep them growing tall and straight. If you do happen to have a plant that has more than one main stem (as happened with a few of my plants by mistake) you can add another string and use two to support the plant (one per stem) however, this is not ideal.
How do you keep your tomatoes under control?
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