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No Stake, No Cage

Ok so I have a plant that is about 3 feet tall right now and I don't have it staked or have a cage around it for support. What will happen if I don't add some kind of support?

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What kind is it? Is it indeterminate or determinate? The determinate only get so big, the indeterminates usually just keep going and going. If you're going to need to stake it better do it soon, as pushing stakes or cages into the ground close around it could damage the root system.


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Super Green Thumb
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It will fall to the ground and sprawl. Some tomato gardeners prefer to grow their plants sprawling on the ground. I think that if you grow them that way, you need to place a barrier like weed cloth, plastic, multiple layers of new papper, or card board and cover that with some kind of light colored mulch, but not with pine straw. That will control the weeds and will keep the fruit and branches from touching the ground and getting disease, rotting, or being eaten by ground crawling insects.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.

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it can be hard to add support this late in the season, with large plants. cages can be too small to put over a plant of this size. and stakes can severely damage your roots. so, to avoid root damage from a late staking, here's what i've been doing, and it's done VERY well so far.

instead of ONE stake directly beside the plant, put in 3 stakes around the perimeter of the plant. then, use twine to create a sort of "cage" using the stakes.

i've done this to 5 of my plants, this year, and they are all doing great, and took very little damage to their roots in the process.
-Zone 7b
-Veggies, succulents, cacti, flowers, and houseplants!

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Super Green Thumb
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I assume your plant is a tomato plant. It won't hurt a thing to let the tomato grow all over the ground. Years ago when I lived in a different place I had plent of land to garden I use to plant 200 tomato plants and I never stakes or cages any of them. I also neve weeded either.

If you plant 20 plants and let them grow on the ground and you don't weed and take care of them they will produce the same quantity of tomatos as 10 plants that are caged and taken care of.

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Super Green Thumb
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no stake no cage

The biggest problem with letting tomatoes sprawl is that if a tomato sits on the ground it WILL (not may, will) rot where it touches the ground. The second biggest problem is that with all the leaves along the ground, it's practically impossible to avoid splashing ground dirt up onto the leaves when you water. This may lead to soil borne diseases on the plant. These problems are both taken care of if you cover the soil with weed barrier cloth, so the plants are sprawling on cloth not dirt.

The third and pretty minor thing is that the tomatoes can be a little bit harder to find under a bunch of leaves all sprawled out. But they are red, so it's not a big deal... Also the plants take up more room that way, but if you have plenty of garden space, that doesn't have to be a problem either. Doesn't work for me with one 4x8' bed for tomatoes.

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I agree with rainbowgardener, if you allow the plant or fruit to touch the ground for any amount of time it will begin to rot and invite disease.

I would stake it with the smallest stakes you could get away with and try to be gentle with the roots.

Good luck! :D
My Tomato Growing Journal

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Super Green Thumb
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Some farmers near here grow acres of tomatoes. They use determinate type tomatoes, and just let them sprawl on the ground. Yes, they haul truckloads of tomatoes off those fields.

I grow tomatoes the same way. Plant them, weed them once, water them and harvest tomatoes.

So, you can suit yourself and fuss around with the things, or just let them do their thing. Personally, I will let them do their thing and go fishing instead of fussing with them.

Whether your tomatoes rot on the ground as some say, may have a lot to do with variety, climate, ground conditions, and pests of all sizes. My suggestion is to try some staked and some sprawling. See what works for you.

You could lay down some newspaper then mulch with grass clippings.
This holds down the weeds and keeps them from lying diredtly on the soil.

I always plant twice as many as I need, and figure on some losses to critters both small and large. Always have plenty, and to spare.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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If you are looking for away to support the plants now, consider the [url=]Florida Weave.[/url]
Finger Lakes, NY
Zone 5b/6a

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Super Green Thumb
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You tomato will do fine. When I lived at the other house I had a very large garden. I use to plant about 60 to 80 tomato plants and I never stakes them or used cages either. I let them grow on the ground and the weeds would take over. The weeds would get about 3 ft tall and it was hard to find the tomatoes in the tall grass. The tall grass made good shade in July and August when it was hot and dry as the desert it kept the tomatoes from getting sun burn. The down side to not taking care of the crop is the harvest is reduced by about half.

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I use cages and stakes as I have things planted all every which kinda of way as I am trying to do the companion gardening thing and plant flowers, veggies and herbs together.

My neighbor has his tomato's all in a row, and did that florida wave kind of thing where he has stakes every xx feet, and then twine run from one stake to the other on each side of the plant. His plants are doing very well and are very tall and ruley!
Shan -
Who is learning to garden and loving every minute of it!

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