Every year it’s the same question — what is the best way to stake up our tomatoes? While you can grow tomatoes on the ground, I prefer them staked up for several reasons. I think they produce more good tomatoes that way, the tomatoes are less likely to rot or get eaten by slugs, the tomatoes ripen better, and in our case, the chipmunks are less likely to get at them.
The only problem we have had is that I have not yet found a good staking method that is both easy to do and does not provide a tangled mess that you can’t find the tomatoes in. Traditional tomato cages are just too narrow, the plant usually outgrows the cage half way through the season and then the top branches bend over the top and break. In addition, any large tomatoes growing inside the cage are almost impossible to pick without either breaking a vine or squashing the tomato.
We’ve also tried tall stakes at each tomato plant but this method did not seem to provide enough support for a sprawling large plant.
This year we are trying an adapted version of the Florida Weave. The basic idea is that the tomatoes are held upright between lines of heavy twine.
What we did was place a 6 foot stake at both ends of the tomato rows and between each tomato plant. We used 1/2 inch copper piping to last and look nice but any tall stake will do. You can put two tomato plants between each stake if you have a lot of plants.
Think of it like this:
Stake — Tomato (or 2) — Stake — Tomato(s) — Stake — Tomato(s) — Stake
We planted only 12 plants so I chose to place stakes between each plant. Next I ran twine about 6 inches from the ground starting at the outside stake, along one side of the tomato plant to the next stake, wound the twine around that post, then proceeded along the one side of the next tomato plant and then to the final stake where I tied it off. True Florida weave says to then go back along line in the same manner but on the opposite side of the plant. Rather than doing this I just made my second row 5 inches up go on the opposite side of the plant. Where I needed to I tied some vines to the twine lines.
So far so good and I’ve even ran my next line to tie the plant to as it grows. I also used the same method with shorter 2 foot stakes for my peppers (with 3 or four plants in between each stake). Each plant was then tied to the twine line. With the cold weather my pepper plants got a bit spindly and so will be top heavy and I’m hoping this method will support the pepper plants as well.