|Thursday Tips & Techniques: Tomatoes: To Stake or Not to Stake?|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 26 May 2011|
By Kathy Widenhouse, Guest Contributor
Sixth and final article in a series
Staking tomato plants isn’t 100% necessary, but it is one area of tomato care that requires you to make a decision before planting or immediately afterward. Take these steps to decide whether to stake or not to stake.
1. Evaluate your space
Staked tomatoes grow upward, taking up less garden space. Unstaked tomatoes sprawl on the ground, making them more vulnerable to diseases and pests. When deciding whether to stake or not, assess how much room you have in your garden.
2. Evaluate your varieties
If a tomato variety’s mature height is less than 24-30” (as is the case with many dwarf and bush varieties), you can choose not to stake it and waste very little space. But consider staking taller types of tomatoes, especially indeterminate varieties which continue to grow new branches until frost. When deciding whether to stake or not, check your varieties and see how tall they will get.
3. Evaluate your time
Trellising and caging are time-intensive early in the season. Tomato stakes and tied branches take less time to set up, but you must invest time each week tying new branches for support. When deciding whether to stake or not, consider how much time you can dedicate to staking at different times during the season.
4. Evaluate your budget
Tomato cages and tomato spirals are expensive to buy, but last several years. Tomato stakes are inexpensive – and tomato ties can be free if you use and tear up old rags – but often need to be replaced every year or two. When deciding whether to stake or not, consider your cash flow and your gardening plans in the coming years.
Thank you Kathy for contributing a this series on growing tomatoes. If anyone is interested in being a guest contributor at The Daily Dirt, please contact us!
About the Author Kathy Widenhouse is a contributing writer for The Daily Dirt and owner of Tomato Dirt (www.tomatodirt.com), a leading source for information on growing tomatoes and using them.
Photo source: www.kwaree.com