Staking Tomatoes

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Tomatoes that are staked offer many more benefits. The advantages realized from staked tomatoes far out-weigh  those plants that are allowed to sprawl on the ground. Staked tomatoes prevent fruits from touching the soil, which helps prevent fruit rot. Trellis tomato vines are easier to spray since they are more upright and ripe fruit may be harvested with less damage to the plant. Staking also allows earlier ripening and "vertical" gardening which means you can plant MORE tomatoes in the same square footage than if you let them ramble over the ground.

To produce properly, your tomatoes need to be staked and/or caged. And you thought you had it rough at work. Although there is some effort on your part involved, the end result is not quite as cruel and unusual as it might sound. Staking and caging also help prevent sun scald (in Tomato Problems section).

Staking, Wiring and Caging methods to use...

Three methods of supporting tomatoes are the cage method, the overhead wire, and the individual stake.


Caging is a technique that can help you get better a better harvest. In this method, tomatoes are supported by enclosing them in cages, constructed of wood or wire.   This way, the vine has support without being tied. Tomatoes growing in cages do not need to be pruned.  Make sure the openings in the wire cage are large enough for your hand holding a tomato to fit through! 

You can make a good cage with a piece of concrete reinforcement wire 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Put cages over the young plants. The cage should be 24-inches in diameter.  Place the cages over the plants when they are small and stake the cage to the ground to guard against wind damage and breakage. Check the plants weekly and adjust the stems so they grow up inside the cage and not out one of the side openings.

Special Type of Caging - Japanese Tomato Ring...

A variation on basic "caging" is the Japanese Tomato Ring. You'll need a level, sunny place about 8 feet across to make it work. Prepare the soil by removing any grass or other plants. Work about a 3-inch layer of organic matter into the soil. To construct the ring, you will need about 12.5 feet of concrete reinforcing wire and a similar-sized piece of chicken wire. Some flexible wire, such as bailing wire, is needed to wire the ring together.

Form the first circle from the concrete reinforcing wire by attaching the ends together with bailing wire. Next, take the chicken wire and line the formed wire ring. This second ring is designed to keep composting material, which will be added later, from filtering out. Set the completed ring over the center of the 8-foot-wide planting circle and anchor it firmly to the ground with four or five metal or wooden stakes.

Start filling the ring with layers of composting material, leaving a depression in the center so that the ring can be watered as plants around it grow. By watering the ring from the top down, plants will receive a soaking of "compost tea" every time the ring is watered, and no additional fertilizing should be necessary.

Place eight cages, constructed of concrete reinforcing wire, equidistant around the main ring and set tomato plants in each after your last frost date. For late frost protection, place a milk jug with the bottom cut out over each plant. Remove once the danger of frost is over.

Mulch around the ring and cages to hold moisture evenly and reduce weeds. The tomato ring can also be used for other crops, such as beans which will be finished before the tomatoes get going.


To form an overhead wire support system, one end of a strong string is loosely tied around the base of the tomato plant and the other end to the wire above. The overhead wire is secured to two tall, very sturdy stakes placed about 6-8 feet apart and set deeply into the ground.  As the plant grows the twine is coiled around the stem. 

tomatostaking.gif (180x235 -- 12393 bytes)Stakes…

bamboostakes.gif (190x98 -- 12876 bytes)Staking your tomatoes has nothing to do with vegetarian vampirism. Instead, it's a good way to help them grow. You can use the metal, bamboo or wood. When staking plants, use stakes about 8 feet long (and 1.5 inches wide if using wood). Insert the stakes about  4 inches from the plant. This should ideally be done right after transplanting out to prevent root damage. Set the stakes 1.5 to 2 feet deep. 

As the plants grow, remove the suckers and tie the main stem to the stake.  Tie strips of cloth, nylons, soft cord or commercial ties around the stake and under the leaflet branch about every 12 inches on the stem. Leave some slack (or use those lovely stretchy pantyhose strips noted above) so you don't cut the stem.  When fruit begins to form, add another tie just below where the shoot holding the cluster of tomatoes emerges from the main stem.

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