Easy
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TOMATOES IN CAGE or ON GROUND

Which will gave you the best tomatoes in a cage or on the ground?

Which will produce more tomatoes in a cage or on the ground?

Which will ripen the best in a cage or on the ground? :? :shock: :D

SquashNUt
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I grew both on the ground and staked last year and the ones on the ground were terrible. They get dirty, rott and the insects wreckked what was left. The small cages are too small for most plants however, I made some from scrap wood. for my self.
North Idaho
Zone 5/6

opabinia51
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Depending on whether your tomatoes are Determinate, Semi-determinate or Indeterminate (Non vining, midway or vining respectively) cages should only be used for the first of the three. Otherwise, use a cedar stake and some old nylons or that plastic garden tie stuff to keep your tomatoes up.
Though really, Determinate tomatoes don't even need a cage. In answer to your question; I have found it best to keep them off the ground because this way, the tomatoes will not become infested with various insects, other invertebrates or various single celled organisms.

The Helpful Gardener
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And the ionization around the metal cages can actually help the fruit setting and general plant health as low level electrical and magnetical fields can help plants (according to "The Secret Life of Plants" that I just finished).

HG

Bob
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In my experience, the best method of growing any tomato is to either stake it or cage it up off of the ground, for all of the reasons others have submitted. However if your going to let them grow on the ground, it’s a good idea to mulch your plants when they’re young with hay or straw or some kind of wood mulch to keep the fruits directly out of the soil.

For making your own great cages, try concrete reinforcing wire. It comes in rolls of different footages and has 4 inch square #9 wire mesh. I make my cages about 18 to 24 inches in diameter the full width of the wire roll which is usually 4 feet wide. It makes great tomato cages 18 to 24 inches in diameter four feet tall. If you bury the bottom 4 inch mesh of each cage below ground, it stabilizes them nicely and when your plants grow up and through them, they even become more stable. The #9 wire holds up well even being left out in the garden over the winter for many years.

You can usually find concrete reinforcing wire rolls at any concrete block yard supply.

opabinia51
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If you are growing a determinate tomatoe, it will be fine a cage. But, if you are growing a semideterminate or indeterminate tomatoe, a cage will not work because the tomatoe will outgrow the cage within a week.

So, for all three Varieties, a cedar stake works best. Use old Nylons to tie your tomatoe plants to the stake. Works like a charm!

Bob
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I always grow the indeterminate types, and if you make your cages four feet tall by at least 18 to 20 inches in diameter, out of the concrete reinforcing wire rolls, they do very nicely to support the plants all season. Though they will grow over the top, the branches manage to hang down over the outside of the cages and remain off of the ground.

I find tall staking and constant tying up of plants cumbersome and unnecessary, and it’s much easier to make some tall cages. I suppose it’s a matter of opinion.

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Grey
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Ahhh... I'm another staker.

I find cages cumbersome - hard to always reach in and get your produce, or to handpick critters off of the branches... and I just don't find them attractive, either. That's the artist in me talking there! And it seems, no cage I made has ever been big enough, even at 4 feet, I wind up staking anyway!

grandpasrose
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I am a staker as well. My tomatoes are grown in the green house, and are tied with old nylons to stakes that go to the roof. The roof has been lined with 2" square wire mesh, and the tomatoes keep growing onto that, and I tie them with nylons when they need it. I do the same thing with my cucumbers. It ends up looking like a jungle in there, but they seem to like it! :wink:

Val
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I am thinking about doing it on wires this year, like they do hops...

S

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Grey
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Oooh, I like the wires idea. I do plan on growing "Matts Wild Cherry" that way - we have four of those street-sign type stakes (came with the property - you'll never guess what they used them for) and I was thinking that might be the easiest way to create a "trellis" as it grows.


As for the stakes... they built a wall, (badly) and it started to lean and give way - so instead of fixing the problem... they got these stakes to hold the wall up. As if that would do anything. lol.

Bob
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Another method I have used to keep my tomatoes up off of the ground is staking along side of the rows with concrete reinforcing rods cut in 6 foot lengths and driven about a foot or two into the ground about a foot each side of a tomato row at intervals of a about ten feet apart and each rod on a slight outward angle. Then using inexpensive string to line the rods aside the plants at about 6 inch intervals and some also stretched inside the rods. It makes for a fencing cage system that works very well.

The road stand market farmers in my area use a stake and wire system, that also seems to work well.

I’ve tried about every system, and I remain partial to the concrete reinforcing wire cages. They eliminate just about all cumbersome tying up that’s necessary with staking. Just let em grow, and the cages do the staking for you. I disagree that cages aren’t attractive, I think they are, and “creativeâ€

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My friend Lisa uses a bamboo "tent" (she calls it that cuz, well, that's what it looks like) and chops off any growth "inside" the tent. Works great...

I did it with stakes and four foot tall fence this year, but it's hard to harvest. That's where I came up with the wire thing...

Scott

Bob
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While we may not all agree on how to keep tomatoes off of the ground, it surely seems we mostly all agree that keeping them off of the ground is the way to go.

I will say though, I have a nephew that never staked and he simply uses straw mulch thickly around his plants and lets them do their own thing. That also seems to do well for him.

grandpasrose
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When you think about it, your nephew too is keeping them off the ground - with straw mulch! I think what we are all trying to do is keep them from touching the damp or wet soil, and sitting in it, where it is more likely to catch the nasties, and begin to rot. :wink:

Val
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opabinia51
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You can also plant your tomatoe plants in the vegetable garden amongst the squash. (They are companion plants) The squash will hold the tomatoe plants up above the soil.

Found that out by accident last year.

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Grey
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All this talk of tomatoes is really making me crave a fresh tomato. :?

I've seen the tipi support for tomatoes before, but have never tried it! I thought they looked nice, and you can get some very handsome (and really expensive) tipi sort of supports with a cast-iron look. Saw that in a magazine - but my yard would probably just have ones made of bamboo! lol.

grandpasrose
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Your bamboo sounds pretty classy to me Grey! My garden teepees are made out of saplings cut down when a neighbour was clearing land! They certainly have their own character! :lol:

Val
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Bamboo is a great gardening project if you have a contained space. Phyllostachys is hardy even around here and growing your own stakes quickly is a real boon. But keep in mind these are clonally invasive; containment is key in growing these...


I have Fargesia, but the cane is light for tomatoes...

Scott

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Grey
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grandpasrose wrote:Your bamboo sounds pretty classy to me Grey! My garden teepees are made out of saplings cut down when a neighbour was clearing land! They certainly have their own character! :lol:

Val
Depending upon how you lashed your garden tipis together, they could have a really neat "rustic" feel to them. Like twine or something. I'd use saplings if I had any - I like rustic!

Bamboo is some very cool stuff - but yes - in a container! My dad planted some in the ground when I was a kid - holy COW did that stuff grow fast! I used to climb in it when I was little. Then he tried killing it off when I was about 14... not so easy either!

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