I do it both ways. I grow a few plants in cages and the others I
stake. In the cages, I let everything just grow. The staked plants
are kept to a single stem by pulling out the suckers. Sometimes I'll
let a stake carry one sucker to make a bigger plant.
I find the advantage to the ones that are staked is that they ripen
their first tomatoes a little earlier. The ones in the cages have
the potential to produce a larger, if later, crop. Here, I'm usually
better off with the staked plants because the season is so short.
So I guess the correct answer is: It depends...lol
Thanks for the feedback.
I will most likely do some of both since I only planted 15 plants of
different varieties but (I am guessing it was the compost) as of yesterday I
had 87 plants sprouting.
They are everywhere....its crazy. I even called my daughter and asked her if
she thought I might have a multiple personality and my alter ego planted all
those plants without telling me. You can guess what king of response I got.
I thinned out about 50 plants and gave them away, but no way do I see me
pulling off that many suckers. I for sure can't afford that many cages. We
have a really long growing season here so maybe I will have good results. In
fact the plants last year were still producing in November.
These renegade plants may or may not produce I have no clue, I figure I will
let them grow and see what happens.
I staked plants one year, and I'd say if you don't have a great deal
of time to keep an eye on them for hornworms, you may not want to
stake too many. Staking is fiddly too in that you had to be out there
all the time tying up the new growth and pinching out growth. I used
cloth torn into strips..cotton so it would rot. Old t-shirts work..
stretchy enough not to damage the stems. If you have enough, plant 2
of each variety, stake one and cage one.
There's BT now to help keep the hornworms down and get they when
they're smaller. On staked plants, they eat the leaves, and the
fruit.. or did here. On the caged plants, later in the year, the
hornworms kind of acted like pruners to keep the foliage back a bit so
that the fruit ripened sooner and they didn't eat up as many of the
actual fruit. So I decided that staking was a lot of work, didn't
give me much fruit, was more prone to sun scalding fruit, insect
damage and was too much work. I could cage them, or do what my dad
did build something like a rail fence down either side, and put cross
pieces between the plants.. make it taller than you think you'll need
it with a good deal of space between the "rails" so you can reach in.
2 x 2's is a good size... the same size as I'd used for the stakes
Oh, they'll likely produce, but *what* they'll produce.. that's the
question! What did you grow last year? Hybrids? Open pollinated?
If they were hybrids, you'll have tomatoes like one of the parent
plants or the other.. and a few that may be similar to the original
plant, but not the very same. Even open pollinated could have crossed
with others.. and what grows this year from the seed could be a hybrid
this year ;-)
If you have the room, let some grow if you're of the curious sort. If
you had cherry tomatoes that you cleaned up and tossed into the
compost.. good number of the volunteers may be just that.
So long as you didn't have any disease problems with plants last year,
shouldn't be too bad. Just make sure to rogue out and get rid of any
plants that look disease right away and don't put it in your compost
Enjoy. I have no tomato plants yet myself. need my helper and it is
a bit early here. Usually it's not safe to plant tender plants you
can't keep protected until all the snow is off Schaeffer Butte .. a
mountain above town.. which is usually around the end of May for me.
It's been warm for a month though.. in the daytime. If I had a bunch
of Wall o' waters I might have planted several weeks ago just to see
how they'd do, since there'd always be time to plant again later.
I knew someone whose front yard was completely taken over by volunteer
tomatoes, started from random seed dropped by sloppy people <g> The
plants were fairly tough, a uniform 2 feet tall, didn't mind that they
were in deep shade most of the day, and produced normal enough fruit
and an endless number of descendants as they reseeded themselves
everywhere. Made a mighty strange-looking lawn, tho :)
There is no clue what these plants are...Last year I grew Better Boys and
Early Girls, but when I have to buy them from the store I buy that kind
still on the vine.
I figure I got nothing to lose letting them grow, esp since I found 3 new
ones about 6 inches tall today.
Now...the renegade potato plants--are they supposed to get 4 feet tall? I
had to stake them to keep them upright. This will teach me to till the whole
compost pile into the garden.
You'd think they'd have weeded all over the near neighbourhood too,
but they didn't. Of course, everyone else had grass <g>
The insane tomatoes of last year were whatever my tenant dragged home
from Walmart. She forgot to water them and I rescued them from death's
door (wilted baby tomatoes will literally re-inflate right before your
eyes as soon as you water them) and it's a wonder they lived at all.
This year we have whatever they were giving away at the home and
garden show -- one is "Champion" and the other is.. something else
that starts with a C. They're still in pots, just starting to bloom.
The old garden spot got eaten by bermuda grass, and I'm not sure where
to put 'em -- might try the overly-hot area behind the house, since
last year's plants didn't mind being roasted alive in the direct
Four FEET? I've seen 'em over a couple feet, but not THAT tall!!
I think this is the prevailing sentiment. One thing I've found about
suckers is that they root easily. I've broken off fairly vigorous
suckers in mid-season, rooted them, and actually gotten a second crop
of tomatoes. (There's usually a long growing season here.)
No need to mess with the tomatoes. Just guide all branches up into the
tomato cage, keep them watered and weeded, and enjoy them when they
When I was a kid, we didn't have tomato cages. They still gave us lots
of fruit -- it was just harder to pick.
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