Stake or no stake tomato

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I grew a few tomatoes without stake or cage this year. Seems like it's a better method. You get a lot more tomatoes because the stems root themselves on the ground and multi-stems also increases the number of fruits.
So is the one stem on a stake method just a waste of time?
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On 8 Sep 2003 08:11:50 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (James) wrote:

No.
It's appropriate when you want to save space, or if you have trouble with tomatoes rotting on the ground, or being eaten by slugs, or contracting various diseases because they've been lying on the ground.
I haven't used this method myself, I've always used cages.
But we will - hopefully - be building a hoophouse soon and I'll definitely stake and prune the tomatoes that I grow in the hoophouse, for space-conserving reasons.
Pat
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wrote:

Please...what's a "Hoophouse"? Thank You. Jerry Shirley, Long island, NY
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On Mon, 08 Sep 2003 16:26:30 GMT, Jerry Minasi

Please ignore above request...I found the information on Goggle. Thank You Jerry
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On Mon, 08 Sep 2003 16:26:30 GMT, Jerry Minasi

A (usually unheated) greenhouse made by stretching plastic over hoops that are usually made of PVC or metal pipe and bent into a hoop shape.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words:
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/eb1825/eb1825.html
You can also buy them in kit form:
http://www.hoophouse.com /
We're building a do-it-yourself version, similar to this one:
www.westsidegardener.com/howto/hoophouse.html (I can't access this website at the moment, but it was still there the last time I looked - hopefully it still is.)
Another example:
http://www.marketfarming.com/lhphs.asp
We have a fairly short season here (north-central PA in the Appalachian mountains).
Last frost in spring - May 31 theoretically, mid-June a lot of the time (frosts in July and August have occurred here, but rarely). First frost in fall - first week in October
So the hoophouse can considerably extend my gardening season on both ends. It will hopefully enable me to harvest the really hardy plants, such as kale and chard, straight through the winter.
I also want to grow the heat-lovers (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, maybe even melons and sweet potatoes) in a hoophouse because it gets very cool here at night even in summer - often down into the 40s - and the heat-loving plants don't like this at all.
Pat
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (James) wrote:

I had both and I really prefer the cage to a stake. tying them appropriately requires more than a stake..a stake with nails studding its length would work better. I and my neighbor both found the wieght of tomatoes to eventually slide down collapsing some on the ground and other plants. However my caged ones worked beautifully. I pinched out early in the season on my indeterminate one but eventually I had three major vines from one plant. Two were staked, the third grew into the cage of the next tomato plant. The staked ones slid, hung over, collapsed on other flowers and veggies. THe one in the cage was held high. Next year I'm buying more cages, it kept my gardening neater (especially in containers).
Having them slide and collapse didn't hurt my yeilds. My indeterminate(1/8 lb fruit) has produced 40 tomatoes with 3 dozen on the vines now(about 8 ready to pick). My determinate(1/4 lb fruit) is finishing up, 39 so far, another dozen+ on the vine, 4 almost ripe. My third plant, I grew as determinate(1/3 lb fruit), but it suffered from wilt. It yeilded only 10 beefsteaks(slightly small), with another 8 greens on the plant.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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(James) wrote:

For the past few years I have used only cages, an this year I wanted to try a staked vs. caged trail but both plants died. For some reason this year most of my cages fell over and crushed other tomatoes, so it's been a mess. It's made me really consider doing all staked next year, but I have reservations since your posting.
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You may have better success...lots do use stakes. The only problem I had like that was with one trough container that tipped over three times during windy weather. The whole trough+cage fell over. I had some very tall plants there and it blew over repeatedly. Another cage on top of a container never blew over. Maybe that plant just had good aerodynamics.
I didn't experience cages coming out of the ground and blowing over, not even when stacked 5+' high. These cages have 8" spikes that sink into the ground. That was enough for them--although we didn't get any tropical storms or hurricane-like weather here.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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DigitalVinyl said:

a slightly knobby texture) and stretchy plastic ties (which can be placed snug, but still have enough give to allow the stems to grow).
Driving large tacks into a wooden stem (the kind used on furniture) might cut the chance of the plants telescoping down the stake.
By staking, I can grow more varieties of tomatoes in one bed than I could using cages.
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Pat in Plymouth MI

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Pat Kiewicz) wrote:

stem grew very thick and pretty much supported itself for the first few feet. It was the top and secondary vines that kept sliding. Maybe with a different tie. Once they do slide I don't like to touch them because I can seem the sharp bends in them and don't want to do further damage.

about different varieties, but I have limited space so a few is all I can do. Next year I'm thinking a early cherry in a hanging basket would be a good addition.
If I had properly pinched out all suckers stakes wouldn't have mattered since the plant would have grown beyond six feet tall. One plant had a 6' main stem and two 5' offshoots. I can't help but think that pinching out further would have reduced my yield.
I grew these two in a 1.5'x 3' corner area, however one vine branched out and took up an additional square foot. Until it fell a flower bed was growing at the base of the second stake so the land had a use besides the tomatoes.
I think two cages in that corner and just let them grow wild would be easier. DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:50:15 GMT, DigitalVinyl

Unless you get a miniature tomato (Yellow Canary is an indeterminate miniature), I think you would need an absolutely huge hanging basket and very strong support. Beyond what's practical, really.
Most cherry tomato plants are immense: we've got two in our garden now that are about six feet high and about six feet in diameter.
Small tomatoes does not equal small plant.

I've always caged tomatoes because I think it's easier. But once we get the hoophouse, I'll be more interested in conserving space - so at least the tomatoes grown in the hoophouse will be pruned and trellised in some manner.
Pat
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If I grow a tomato plant in a 10" round, 6" deep pot, I'm not going to get a 6' x 6' plant. Sort of self limiting. I can also keep it pruned some if it seems unruly. I think there may even be varieties specifically for baskets.
My mom once put regular beefsteak tomato seeds in the corner of her flower box. They grew about three feet high and ended up with several cherry-sized tomatoes. The small 8" cube area of dirt stunted them, but she got tomatoes.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 13:50:15 GMT, DigitalVinyl

Consider trying currant tomatoes, especially the yellow ones. I've grown them in hanging baskets off and on for years. They do wonderfully, and are very tastey. Cook's Garden <www.cooksgarden.com> used to carry them. Um, looks like they still do.
I used to drop a few of the tiny tomatoes into the basket at the end of the season, and they would volunteer the next spring. Sadly when I moved two years ago they didn't make the move.
Note to self: Get off your arse and get some currant tomatoes started next spring.
Pam
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I drive a small fence-post type stake deep, then use plastic cable ties (zip ties) to attach a post like they describe. That way I wound up with an over 7 foot tall stake with no chance of falling over. I then zip tie a loop around the plant stem, then attach it to the post with a tie. Works great. I have a couple of Romas with at least 30 lbs of fruit per vine, 3 plants per stake. Solid as a rock. I have 8 raised beds, eash about the size of a double bed, and the 4 with tomatos each have 8 plants. Staking cuts the yield, but the VARIETY kicks butt. And all the posts will last for years of use.
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Every time I have staked tomatoes, the weight of the tomatoes causes the plant to slide down the stake and the result has been the same as no stake.
Regards, hawk

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I've _always_ staked, and never had this sliding problem. Maybe it's my choice of stake -- I rip 2x4's into 2x2's, and there's plenty of roughness. Just tie around the stake before tying the plants. Only problem is when plants get 6' tall and up, and loaded with tomatoes, they can really stress the stake. Sometimes I've had to guy the stakes to relieve the stress. Using other materials could cause sliding difficulties if they have slick exteriors.
I've tried cages but (personally) don't like them as much -- they take up lots more room both in the garden and storing over the winter. Gardening in the city is always a space-challenge, even when you devote nearly all of your non-house property to the garden.
    -frank
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snipped-for-privacy@u.washington.edu (Frank Miles) wrote:

We use the same kind of stakes but clip the tomatoes at the top when they become a problem. I like cages (the heavy gauge, farm-grade, stackable ones, not those dippy things that bend) for certain tomato varieties, especially ones that have a tendency to produce huge tomatoes. I like some of my tomatoes not so huge lol and caging them accomplishes that. But we stake three times as many as we cage.

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Phaedrine Stonebridge wrote:

I like the sound of the farm-grade cages. Where would a person find such a thing?
I've done caging and staking, and now do a combo-variation. I put cages over the plants in the spring. They grow in a single row in a slightly curved bed. When they start to spill over their cages, I build a bamboo/plastic tie seal uber-cage around the whole row. As the season grows on I can add more horizonals and diagonals as needed. Very sturdy and lightweight. I sometimes build them for my English Roses as well. It's hard to describe, but I have pictures of the tomatoes in their uber-cage throughout the season on my Edibles page: http://www3.sympatico.ca/great/tempee.html
For the past few years I've visually documented my garden. Each month I add pictures of some of the highlights. There are links to the flower garden from the Edibles page if anyone is interested.
EV
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But you need a lot of space.

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Where, indeed?

Thanks for a great show. Your pictures are fantastic and so, it seems, is the produce. I really enjoyed this photo-trip.
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Persephone

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