Binkalette
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Does anyone NOT support their tomatoes?

I had put up some support stakes for the tomatoes this spring when they were very small and thought they would be large enough to hold them the whole year. Last year I didn't have any compost in the garden and my tomato plants only got around 3ft tall, but produced lots of tomatoes anyway. This year I put in lots of compost from the pile I made last year, and my tomatoes took over. They quickly outgrew the supports and toppled them. They grew over the lettuce, the peppers and the onions and are now falling out of the bed. There are about 100 tomatoes on the two plants though that are just starting to ripen. The plants seem to be doing just fine all toppled over, I'm wondering does anyone not bother supporting their plants?? My dirt is covered in a grass clippings, leaves and sawdust mix, so they don't have direct contact with the soil.



Here were the tomatoes this spring indoors: [img]https://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l208/Binkalette/IMG_1110.jpg[/img]

Here they were in early june, just before I put down the grass clipping mix:
[img]https://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l208/Binkalette/IMG_1331.jpg[/img]

Here they are a couple of weeks ago, having toppled the supports and covered the other plants:
[img]https://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l208/Binkalette/IMG_1502.jpg[/img]

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soil
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all of my tomatoes in the forest garden have no stakes or trellis. other than a few shrubs and short trees to climb on. for the most part they make an excellent living mulch that gives me tomatoes.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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soil
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but picking them was a lesson in ballet!
haha so true when the patch gets real big.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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PunkRotten
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Some of my plants are now growing like this. They got out of control and I just let them be cause it was too much stress messing with them. They are still growing fine.

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rainbowgardener
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I've always grown mine with stakes and cages, so don't have any experience with the sprawl method. Things I would worry about would be soil borne diseases, with so much of your plant touching soil. For caged tomatoes they always say pull off all the bottom leaves so nothing touches the soil. Also if any of the tomatoes touch the soil they will tend to rot at that spot. And it would seem like that sprawl would make great insect habitat.

But it seems like you are committed to that method now, so just write back and let us know how it goes! :)
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PunkRotten
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It is true. I have found a few tomatoes with some rot or insect damage because it was touching the ground. But not all of them have had this happen. I also worry about diseases too. Next season I am gonna stake and tie them better. Or maybe use cages.

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Gary350
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30+ years ago I never supported my tomato plants. I learned from my experience that I get about 1/2 as many tomatoes this way.

10 plants supported will produce the same amount of tomatoes as 20 plants not supported.

I decides it was a lot less work to support my plants it was 100 times easier to keep the grass and weeds out. I can till between the rows and hoe between the plant if they are caged.

I have done a lot of experementing supporting tomato plants. I think twine string is the best but I stopped doing this 20 years ago. It is a lot of work to set this up but a lot easier to take care of. You need a string about 8 ft long hanging at each plant. You twist the string around the plant about once a week the string holds the plant straight up.

I have gotten a bit lazy in my old age it is easy just to poke a cage in the ground at each plant. When the plants start getting top heavy then it is a lot of work to keep the cages from falling over. I just spent over an hour in the garden today standing tomato cages up again after the big rain he had yesterday. I have some cement rebars about 7 ft tall I hammer them in the ground and tie the cages to the rebar.

nulak
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This is only my second year growing tomatoes so I am still very new to this. However, both years I supported my tomatoes. Last year I staked them and it was a lot of work to maintain them. This year I went with cages and it is much easier. To address Gary350's problem with cages falling over, I just ran whatever stakes or rebar I had through the cages to hold them in place. Here is some visual aid. Btw, those are 4' tall cages.

https://i.imgur.com/aN254.jpg - side angle of my garden
https://i.imgur.com/pEjjm.jpg - closeup.

DeborahL
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I use stakes and avocado colored yarn. I like that the yarn blends with the leaves. OK, I'm into details... :oops:
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probe1957
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My late granddad, who had the mother of all gardens, never supported his.

This is the first time in years I have had a garden in years. I do support mine but I didn't prune them as much as I should have and although they are as tall as the 8 foot poles they are staked to they are pretty out of hand.

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TheWaterbug
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Mine are half supported. I bought some of those [url=https://www.amazon.com/California-Plastic-TMC60-Ultomato-Cage/dp/B000RUM0R4]expensive Ultomato cages[/url], and they look spiffy when you first put them in, but they're too small. My tomatoes bushes are now twice the diameter of the Ultomato cages, so I can either squash the heck out of them and force them into the cage, or I can be lazy and just let them grow.

I've "chosen" the latter by default, and so half the bush is in the cage and half is sprawling on the ground.

I seem to have little tomatoes everywhere, but nothing's ripened yet.

Good tip about mulching; I just got a bunch of free mulch, so I'll have to spread it underneath everything this weekend.

Those Ultomato cages are ~$7.50 at Home Depot, but I don't think I'd buy them again. Too expensive and too small. If the crossbars were twice the length (but the same price) I'd consider them. I like the easy adjustability. Since I already have 5 of them, I'll probably use them again next year, but use 2-3 per plant.
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PunkRotten
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So what do you guys think is the very best way to support them? I let my plants sprawl this year, I liked it but I kinda didn't like it too. What I liked about it is less stress I just neglected the plants and let them do what they wanted.


What I didn't like was they took up too much space this way and kind of made the garden look a little ugly. I also hear using those tight cages makes it hard to access some of the tomatoes closer in the middle of the plant, everything is more compact. If I were to use caging I would want to make the diameter bigger to give the plants a little more breathing room.

I was thinking cages and staking for ultimate support. What would be the best material? Or would it be better to just buy a cage? This coming season I want to try and be as cheap as possible.

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TheWaterbug
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soil wrote:
but picking them was a lesson in ballet!
haha so true when the patch gets real big.
It requires either [url=https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/999ENT_Catherine_Zeta-Jones_060.jpg]more practice[/url] or [url=https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/mission-impossible-splash.jpg]better equipment[/url].
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

2cents
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PunkRotten,
Hardware supply or concrete supply stores sell reinforcement wire, usually 5 ft with 6 in squares, it works well. you cut the wire for your own cages. they will be a perfect 5 ft tall cage.
under 2 ft diameter cage and you will need to support them, there are a number of methods, I like a 8 ft 1 x 2 cut in half(4ft) one on each side and sunk 1 ft in ground next to cage(3ft out of ground) and i use wire ties for quick n easy tie cage to wood stakes.
If you make your tomatoe cages 2.5 feet in diameter or bigger(bigger tends to get too big) then rarely do you need to support the cage(only in extreme wind storms). They will stand upto storms and not topple over.
If using just stake, you can go to big box hardware and buy a bundle of 1x2s. the neighbor puts his to the saw and sharpens the tip.
good luck

DoubleDogFarm
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Does anyone NOT support their tomatoes?
I think it's always wise to praise the tomato. You's a good tomato!
Oh, not that type of support. :lol:

Mine are mostly sprawling this year.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Double%20Dog%20Farm%20Vegetable%20Garden%20plants/GardenAugust9th2011004.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Double%20Dog%20Farm%20Vegetable%20Garden%20plants/GardenAugust9th2011002.jpg[/img]
I'm more worried about ripening than supporting.

Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TheWaterbug
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2cents wrote:PunkRotten,
Hardware supply or concrete supply stores sell reinforcement wire, usually 5 ft with 6 in squares, it works well. you cut the wire for your own cages. they will be a perfect 5 ft tall cage.
under 2 ft diameter cage and you will need to support them, there are a number of methods, I like a 8 ft 1 x 2 cut in half(4ft) one on each side and sunk 1 ft in ground next to cage(3ft out of ground) and i use wire ties for quick n easy tie cage to wood stakes.
If you make your tomatoe cages 2.5 feet in diameter or bigger(bigger tends to get too big) then rarely do you need to support the cage(only in extreme wind storms).
How often do most people need a cage taller than 5'?

I have one plant that's nearly 6' tall right now, but I think a 5' cage would support it just fine. Then again this is my first year growing tomatoes, so maybe next year they'll be taller ;)

My other plants are all 5' tall or shorter.

7' mesh is available, but it's typically in 200' rolls. I found one place in Los Angeles that will cut me a 50' section of that, but they want $83.50 for it :shock:, vs. the 5' x 50' roll that I can buy from a different place for $38.

I suppose I can construct a taller cage with two pieces of the 5' stuff, but that's more work, and I'm lazy :D

But I'm also cheap. Am I cheaper or lazier? Or is 5' just good enough for 99% of tomato gardens?
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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lakngulf
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:I'm more worried about ripening than supporting. Eric
Well, I will "praise" those pretty green tomatoes. Here's hoping for some red ones soon.
Nutin as good as a kitchen sink mater sammich

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PunkRotten
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TheWaterbug wrote:
2cents wrote:PunkRotten,
Hardware supply or concrete supply stores sell reinforcement wire, usually 5 ft with 6 in squares, it works well. you cut the wire for your own cages. they will be a perfect 5 ft tall cage.
under 2 ft diameter cage and you will need to support them, there are a number of methods, I like a 8 ft 1 x 2 cut in half(4ft) one on each side and sunk 1 ft in ground next to cage(3ft out of ground) and i use wire ties for quick n easy tie cage to wood stakes.
If you make your tomatoe cages 2.5 feet in diameter or bigger(bigger tends to get too big) then rarely do you need to support the cage(only in extreme wind storms).
How often do most people need a cage taller than 5'?

I have one plant that's nearly 6' tall right now, but I think a 5' cage would support it just fine. Then again this is my first year growing tomatoes, so maybe next year they'll be taller ;)

My other plants are all 5' tall or shorter.

7' mesh is available, but it's typically in 200' rolls. I found one place in Los Angeles that will cut me a 50' section of that, but they want $83.50 for it :shock:, vs. the 5' x 50' roll that I can buy from a different place for $38.

I suppose I can construct a taller cage with two pieces of the 5' stuff, but that's more work, and I'm lazy :D

But I'm also cheap. Am I cheaper or lazier? Or is 5' just good enough for 99% of tomato gardens?

4-5 feet is typical, I have seen some a lot bigger too. All my tomatoes are about 4-5 feet but if I would of took care of them better they could of got huge. I seen some guy on youtube with huge bushes, like 7-8 feet tall and like 5 feet across. I think a 5 foot cage is adequate in most cases though.

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TheWaterbug
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^^
I'll probably just buy the 5' roll and build 5' cages. I'll have leftover mesh, so if I have to extend a cage I'll be able to do that after the fact.

I may even try something fancy so it's like a "hat" that can be attached or detached at will. Depends on my level of laziness :)
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DoubleDogFarm
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lakngulf wrote:
DoubleDogFarm wrote:I'm more worried about ripening than supporting. Eric
Well, I will "praise" those pretty green tomatoes. Here's hoping for some red ones soon.
Thank you, and you's a good tomato too. :D

Eric

2cents
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all praise the mater :lol:

most of my plants get no taller than 7-8 feet. they get a foot to 1.5 foot over the top of the cage and then fall & droop over the sides of the cage after a while, that makes for easier picking.
The tallest mater I've seen was close to 10 feet, supported from a gutter string down to ground buried stakes. Wish I had taken a picture.

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PunkRotten
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These are some big plants https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIfrkZAS7TA

Skip to around 3:50

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TheWaterbug
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TheWaterbug wrote:^^
I'll probably just buy the 5' roll and build 5' cages. I'll have leftover mesh, so if I have to extend a cage I'll be able to do that after the fact.
Has anyone a good source (preferably in the Los Angeles area) for galvanized 6" x 6" mesh? One of the major factors turning me against the traditional remesh cages is the rust. I know that it'll take years for them to rust through, but there's a part of me that just doesn't like rust.

I've seen it in pictures, such as on [url=https://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/tomato/msg0801030613774.html]this other forum,[/url] (pictures about halfway down that page) but I've not seen it for sale.

If I could find galvanized mesh it'd certainly push me more towards making my own, vs. buying the insanely expensive Texas Tomato Cages.

Even if I could find the name of a manufacturer I could ask them for local distributors/retailers.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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TheWaterbug
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Speaking of the Texas Tomato Cages, does anyone here use them? Can someone post close-up pictures of the "hinge" area where the rings meet the vertical supports, on both types of hinge?

I'm very curious as to how they're constructed, how they might wear/fail, if they could be reverse-engineered with hand tools, etc.

I'm interested in a set of 6 with the extenders, but with shipping that's about $185, which is just wayyyy too much money. Talk about your [url=https://www.amazon.com/64-Tomato-Fortune-Endured-Existential/dp/1565125576]$64 tomatoes[/url]!
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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organicgardenerswife
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Stake or not to Stake?

I have to reply to this one! I have a bit of strong feeling for this subject. I would 100 times rather have them caged or staked than growing free on the ground!

Why? Well, maybe it was just the growing weather our first few years, but we have never had very nice tomatoes. This year is the first year we got around to staking them.

They are much nicer this year, less rotted, less over-ripe (from missing them because they were so hard to find in the leaves on the ground), and I enjoyed picking them a LOT more!



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