Life in the Garden Part 21: Staking tomato problems

This is the first time I've grown tomatoes on my deck. The last time I dealt with tomatoes, I was was probably 10 and working in the back yard in New York. So I already knew about pulling suckers and the importance of staking the plants.

The details of staking, however, are details I have to relearn.

One of the staking mistakes I made was using twine and tying the plants too tightly to support.

2009-06-14 too tight

The plant did not have quite enough slack to grow within the loop, so it started to grow around it and absorb the twine into the stem. It's kind of neat to see the flexibility of nature to adapt to this, but it does put the plant at risk. It makes a weak point where the plant stem could split, and I would lose all the fruit above the knot.

So I cut is loose. The twine is still in the stem, and I'm not about to pull it out. But at least it shouldn't put any more stress on it.

To prevent this from happening again, I switched to velcro strips. They are cheap and available in many garden centers. You can get them in rolls 10' long.

Here's how I now tie my plants.

2009-05-30 Tomato Velcro

2009-06-13 Staking

The velcro is softer, and since it's wider, it spreads the support across more of the stem. Plus, if the plant gets too big, the velcro is flexible enough to accommodate the healthy stem.

It's like a comfort flex waist band for the plants.


Garden Gnome Wanderings said...

I use tomato cages to support the base of my tomatoes then secure the top growth to a wooden frame using yarn or adjustable plant ties. I grow in raised beds using the sfg method so tying the vines upwards is critical. I really like your idea of using velcro strips! Thanks so much for the idea. Good luck with your tomatoes :)

Unknown said...

That looks like a really good idea.

JD at I Do Things said...

Great idea. I tend to tie them too tightly, too. They don't like it. But it's amazing how they adapt. Mmmm. Garden tomatoes. I can't wait.

Lola said...

Strips of old pantyhose works well too. And are free if you know someone who wears them and would be willing to give them to you to recycle when they get a run.

Chivalrybean said...

Was dropping Entracards and saw your tomatoes post. I'll forward it to my wife who is as I type tying up some tomatoes!

Cromely said...

@Garden Gnome Wanderings: I find it does help to have gnomes in my plants. I may try cages next year. For now, I've kind of made my own from twine.

@jakill: Thanks.

@JD at I Do Things: I'm really looking forward to the flavors.

@Lola: I've heard that. Actually heard panthhose are useful for all sorts of things -- even replacing a fan belt. Of course, ensuring a suplly might require me to make some major lifestyle choice that just don't seem to fit.

@Chivalrybean: I hope it helps.