When it comes to growing tomatoes, how, when, and what you use to tie up and support tomato plants can make a big difference in the overall performance of the crop.
Whether you use tomato stakes or tomato cages or another method, it's critical to support tomato plants as well as pepper, eggplant, broccoli raab, and other tall-growing and vining plants.
Tying up tomato plants and other plants is essential for their health. Without proper support, they’ll grow along the ground and become tangled, the fruit may rot and the plant will be more susceptible to disease.
You should plan to tie up plants soon after the stakes or cages are in the ground. Tying prevents branches from breaking.
Today's video tutorial shows how to use one of my favorite materials, old torn bedsheets, for tying up tomatoes and other plants. Watch the video but also keep reading this post for other materials you can use, reasons to tie up tomato plants, how to tie up plants and how to stake tomato plants.
Are you interested in hydroponic gardening? What about drilling a drainage hole in a ceramic pot? Or starting potato slips? Head over to our Gardening and Foraging page for tutorials on these subjects plus many more.
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STAKING TOMATO PLANTS
Over the years I've tried many different types of supports for tomatoes - round cages, square cages, stakes and fences. Depending on the variety of tomatoes, determinate or indeterminate, the tomatoes grew well over the top of the cages and fences, flopping down over the sides. I now reverted back to stakes.
Staking allows me to fit more plants in my raised garden bed. I use inexpensive 1-inch-by-2-inch-by-8-foot untreated furring strips that can be used year after year.
Immediately after planting, I pound the stakes about a foot into the ground, four to six inches away from the tomato seedling.
REASONS FOR TYING UP TOMATO PLANTS
- Helps to grow healthier plants
- Better air circulation and light
- Protections against the forces of nature - wind, storms
- Keeps foliage and fruit off the ground
- Helps protect plants from pests and diseases
- Watering and weeding easier
- Harvesting more manageable
What materials to use to tie up tomatoes
There are many materials that work well for tying up plants. Selection of the wrong material can cause damage. The key is to use a material that is durable enough to hold plants but isn't too rigid that it cuts or damages the plant as it grows.
My two favorite materials which are budget-friendly, eco-friendly and bio-degradable are:
- Old cotton bed sheets, torn into strips
- Tee shirt yarn (Our tee shirt yarn tutorial explains how to repurpose old tee shirts into yarn.)
Do not use zip ties, metal wire or hard plastic ties.
OTHER MATERIALS THAT CAN BE USED
- Velcro Tomato Wraps
- 100% Cotton Yarn
- Orphan socks
HOW TO TEAR BEDSHEETS INTO STRIPS
What you need is an old or worn-out sheet. To make sheet strips, you are going to rip the cotton sheet into long strips.
With a pair of scissors, make a scissor snip at one end of the sheet. Then start to rip the sheet by grabbing the two parts where the snip was made and just tear. You'll want the strips about a 1/2" - 1" wide.
You’ll be tearing with the weave of the cotton, so it will tear straight.
HOW TO TIE UP TOMATO PLANTS
- Begin tying up the tomato plant when it is about 6 - 10 inches tall. I remove some of the bottom foliage so I can interplant another crop under the tomatoes.
- Loosely wrap your preferred tie material around the tomato plant stem and stake.
- Regularly check the tomato plant and tie up loose branches and the main stem.
Eggplant Tied Up
Happy Gardening and Tomato Growing! - Annette
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