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What are the Different Types of Tomato Support?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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There are a myriad of methods which can be used for tomato support to keep tomato plants vigorous and healthy during the growing season. In all cases, the goal of tomato support is to keep the fruit off the ground to prevent rot, and to ensure that the plant receives even sun exposure so that the fruits are all able to fully develop. Many gardeners have preferred tomato support tactics, and some can become fierce advocates for particular methods on the basis of their gardening experience.

The tomato cage is a classic tomato support method. The cage is placed over the plant while it grows, and the branches are encouraged to support themselves on the bars of the cage. This leaves the fruits hanging free, which makes them very easy to pick. Many garden stores sell tomato cages, and people can also construct their own; a good option is a folding cage which can be folded flat for storage at the end of the harvest.

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Trellising is another option. A tomato trellis can be constructed in a variety of creative ways. Traditional trellis lattice like that found in many garden stores is an option, as is a trellis made by stringing netting or string between posts. Folding metal trellises can be convenient for growing tomatoes. People can also play around in the garden with nontraditional trellising like a rusting metal bedstead, which can provide plants with support as they grow. A tomato ladder, closely related to the trellis, is another tomato support technique to think about.

Staking is used by some gardeners to support their tomatoes as they grow. The tomatoes may need to be tied to the stake to stay upright, but the stake is also simple and low profile. It is also possible to use several stakes with a sprawling plant to ensure that it gets enough support. Other gardeners may use tomato support such as a wooden frame which fits over the tomatoes and provides protrusions for the plants to support themselves on.

Some gardeners evade the support issue altogether by growing their tomatoes upside down. While this might sound odd, it can actually work very well. In this method of tomato propagation, the plants are hung upside down and as they grow, they reach towards the ground. When hung high enough, the plant never actually comes into contact with the ground, and the fruits get plenty of light and air to promote even development on the vine.

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Talentryto
Post 3

@heavanet- I appreciate your feedback about using tomato stakes for support, and will have to give them a try this year. I have always used tomato cages, but I also grow small tomatoes like cherry and plum varieties. They do work well for these smaller plants, but I can understand that they may not work for larger tomato plants.

Heavanet
Post 2

I have used every method possible for supporting tomato plants, including stakes, trellises, and cages. By far, the best way to support tomatoes is by using stakes, in my opinion.

Staking tomatoes is the way that farmers and gardeners of years ago used to keep their plants upright. They usually used wooden stakes that were about an inch thick and twine to tie the plants. The stakes were sturdy, and supporting the plants with them was easy. The same process is true today. Simply pound your tomato stakes in the ground, and tie your plants to them in sections as they grow.

Trellises have the tendency to lean, and cages aren't much better when it comes to supporting tall tomato plants with lots of fruit on them. But once they are securely in the ground, tomato stakes will stand tall and be supportive throughout the growing season regardless of big the tomato plants grow.

Rundocuri
Post 1

My neighbor used to grow tomatoes without using any type of tomato support system. Each growing season, he would plant his tomato plants then cover the ground around them with garden plastic or cut tarps. Then, when his plants produced tomatoes, they would grow on these coverings without being damaged from being exposed directly to the soil. It saved him a lot of work, and his tomatoes always looked and tasted great.

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