tomatoes, stake em or let em sprawl

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by kentuckyhippie, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. kentuckyhippie

    kentuckyhippie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    in your opinion what are the good points and bad points of staking tomatoes instead of letting them just sprawl on the ground
     
  2. Staking, takes less room up in your garden if they grow up instead of out. Same with cucumber vines.
     

  3. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    It depends. Varieties of tomatoes are 'determinate' or 'indeterminate' .
    There are varieties with strong stalk that don't need staking, especially if you start the transplnats by deep planing the stalk. I used to dig a hole for the roots as normal about 6 inches deep and place the plant laying down. Bury all that except the exposed top few inches showing about 3 rows of the primary leaves. Push dirt against the plant so it stands up. This will cause stalk roots to firmly implant the tomatoe plant to keep it sturdy. No staking needed.
    If you have the indeterminate varieties that like to do a lot of 'vining', it's better to use cages or staking. The plum or small cherry tomatoes are best grown on trellis fencing and easy multitudinous picking. :D
     
  4. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you do not support the vines, the tomatoes will lay on the ground.
    Tomatoes laying on the ground very quickly rot, and there goes your harvest!
    Best to cage them early, imo.
    mary
     
  5. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    They are best staked. They can get soil-borne diseases if left lying around, and fruit touching the ground usually rots more easily, especially if the soil is kept moist. Good air circulation is important for tomatoes. If you don't like staking, why not check out how to grow them upside down from hanging containers? There's a site out there somewhere telling you how to go about it, and it was mentioned here a while back.
     
  6. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    I just read this in a gardening book I have...
    Advantages,
    Very little time spent caring for crop. Little or no pruning, no staking and training, no supports to build or buy
    Total yeild seems to be higher than staked or caged plants
    Disadvantages,
    In wet weather many gardeners will have rot or bug problems, especially slugs.
    Reqire more room, sprawling plants will bush out quite a bit.
    Sometimes it is hard to pick tomatoes close to the ground or even hidden by thick growth
     
  7. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I wish there were a way to keep tomato plants up off the ground without having to tie them up or otherwise touch them. Touching the leaves gives me a rash. Maybe I should try growing them so that they sprawl on pallets or something.
     
  8. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    It probably depends on where you live. We are in AZ and the ground is mostly dry during the summer. Staking the tomatoes is a lot of work and expense. Then at the end of the season you have to take the cages out and store somewhere. Both pros and cons so try both methods for your garden.
     
  9. tallpaul

    tallpaul Well-Known Member

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    I use hog fence and intertwine the stems as they grow but as far as your problem- How about some surgical gloves? you may find them on the cheap? Also maybe fells naptha soap if used fairly quick after your exposure may eliminate or at least reduce the problem? I also started to used liquid dishsoap applied liberally to my hands and lower arms and rubbed in before I work on greasy stuff (if I remember or am not to lazy!) and everything washes off easy without the junk getting into my skin- the soap ending up on the leaves should not hurt them either.
     
  10. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We made re-mesh supports for our tomatoes. They are 5ft tall with 18in diameter held together with wire ties. Expensive about $100 for 35 but the best we have ever used and they should last a long time.
     
  11. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We grew over 200 plants last year, you better believe I did not stake them! lol
    I don't think a sigle tomato rotted on the plant and none were lying on the ground, all were determinates though. The drawbacks were - harder to weed around the plants and couldn't see the box turtles who lived among the vines and ate very well.
     
  12. Manny

    Manny Well-Known Member

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    If you lay down a very thick layer of straw mulch, 8 inches or so, you might be able to get by without staking but you can't allow the leaves, stems or fruit to touch the soil surface. If you touch the soil with any of these you are inviting all kinds of disease and rot. I tried it only once and was very disappointed--- blights, rots, rats, turtles, possums and that was with about 3 inches of mulch. Now I use a Japanese Ring, which is a circle of fencing about 4 feet in diameter, and plant the tomatoes around the outside and use the inside of the ring as a compost heap. When I water I just water the inside of the ring and every so often throw a handful of fertilizer on top of the compost. The plants seem to tolerate our hot Summers much better with this system and my production seems to be greater. It's an easy chore to tie up some of the rampant stems to the wire ring and I do no pruning in order to cut down on sunburn of the fruits.
     
  13. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    I tend to get pest problems when they are sprawling on the ground.
     
  14. Ray_Scheel

    Ray_Scheel Well-Known Member

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    I only grow indeterminates. I use a trellis of concrete reinforcing wire, push the stems through the holes casually as they grow up, and let them flop once they hit the top. I *have* to keep my foliage at least a foot off the ground to minimize disease problems (both ground transfer and lack of ventiliation).
     
  15. BJ

    BJ Well-Known Member

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    Try growing the "bush" type. They take less space..can get by with just one large tomato cage to support them...and you can easily reach all the fruit with little contact to the leaves. I recommend Better Boy Bush or Early Girl Bush. Yum...wish I had some now...the $3.49 per pound for hot house tomatoes this winter is a bite! :eek:
     
  16. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

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    I grow alot of indeterminate tomatoes here in Tennessee.


    When I went through the Master Gardener program, our vegetable growing teacher provided the best option I have ever found for tomatoes. I have used this method for six years now, and it works great, even in rainy weather.


    Get a roll of concrete reinforcement wire, and a pair of good wirecutters. I got mine at Home Depot.


    It takes two people to do this. Roll out five feet of the wire, then carefully cut the wire. After cutting a five foot section of the wire, roll it into a cylinder and use plyers to bend the wire so that you hook the two ends of each row of wire together.

    This creates a very stout tomato cage that is five feet tall and about two and a half feet wide.


    There is approximately 50 feet of wire in one bundle of concrete reinforcement wire, so you can make either nine or ten of these stout tomato cages with a single bundle of wire.


    When I plant my tomato transplant in the ground, I then dig a shallow trench about two and a half feet wide (the same size and shape as the cage), and about three inches deep. It's pretty easy to do with a trenching shovel, but a regular shovel can do the job almost as easy.

    I put some Garden Tone (an organic fertilizer mix) in the bottom of that trench for the roots to feed on once they reach out that far.

    Then I place the cage inside that shallow, circular trench.

    Finally, I fill the trench back up with the same soil I just dug out of it.


    Planted this way into the ground, these cages are so sturdy that in July of 2003 when Memphis was hit by a "land hurricane" (violent, 103 mph circular winds that spanned over a 60 plus mile area for about an entire hour) every one of my seventeen tomatoes and their cages withstood those category 2 hurricane force winds!


    Now that is plenty stout!
     
  17. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    How are you gonna pick em? I would just wear gloves.
     
  18. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    go to
    www.gardenweb.com
    then go to forums and click on growing tomatoes. Lots of info there.