Soon it’ll be time to put the tomato plants outside in their final position. (Not that I’m counting or anything!) So now would seem a good moment to think ahead and work out what support method to use for them as they grow. It’s the indeterminates/cordons that will need supporting of which I seem to have quite a few!
So which are the different methods I could use?
There seem to be about 4 different ways.
Staking is the use of a cane or stake which is put in the ground alongside the tomato plant. The tomato plant is tied to the stake and further ties are added as the tomato plant grows. Traditionally stakes have been bamboo canes but now include plastic or plastic covered metal poles. Staking can be used in the ground or in pots, outside or in greenhouses. It’s useful outside where fixing a stake into the ground is a straightforward method of providing support.
Strings tend to be used in greenhouses where a structure exists to tie the string onto. The string is tied in place ground to ceiling and as the plant grows the string is gently twisted around the stem to support it. It can also be used outside if a suitable structure is built or available
Cages. These come in different shapes and sizes. Either round or square. Usually metal. They seem to work by providing an all round enclosure for the tomato plant to grow up inside. I know I am not growing flowers but aesthetically these are troubling. There’s practical gardening and then there’s tomato jail!
Spirals feel like a cross between an obelisk support and the string method. The stem is wound round the spiral but the spiral is much greater than with the close support string method.
If you want to know more about tomato supports then take a look at the indepth report complied by the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara Country in California. In 2001 they conducted a trial of 10 different tomato supporting methods with over 100 varieties of tomatoes. Interesting reading and lovely sunshine!
From these 4 I think I’m going to use the staking method with bamboo canes. But I might also try a spiral if I can find one.
Tomorrow I’ll write in more detail about staking.
Have you tried any of the more unusual methods of support for tomatoes ? How did you find them ?