Tomato Props

1 09 2013

Time to have this discussion. “Right at the end of season?”  Heck yes hombre!  That way, you can get the right one for next year.   Which kind of prop is the right one?

Tomatoes grow in two types.  The kind most people grow (indeterminate) and the kind weirdos grow (determinant).  indeterminate are tomato plans that grow tomatoes on branches and don’t really stop growing.  These tomatoes create big and long harvest but more than likely, a frost will cut short (the plant is constantly growing new tomatoes).  Determinate tomato types seem to be confined to “bush types” or varities that you can grow in a container (like Tiny Toms, or something).  The plants tend to be smaller and tomatoes come earlier in the easy. It seems that determinates do not necessitate support (though I doubt they would complain).  Support is a necessity for indeterminate tomato plants; without it, it can be a jumbled, inaccessible, yield limited mess.

Besides looking nicer and making food easier to get to, support for these plants increases airflow around the plant which tends to limit pathogens (fungis, bad bugs…anything bad really); so, it’s quite likely your plant will be healthier with a good support in place.

And there are numerous options for supports.

The tomato cage:  There are the basic metal hoops that end up sitting maybe 2 ft off the ground.  This will do VERY little to support your plant if it grows as most indeterminant do (huge and bulky).  It is literally better than nothing, but not much else.

There are a variety of types of tomato cages that can be found.  Something bigger will work better than the basic cheapest model.  It does need to be said that with tomato cages, you get what you pay for.  Our indeterminate varities grew to OVER 5 ft this year.  A short little 2 foot cage would be basically useless.  There are heavier duty, more colour, and more solid tomato cages and that gets reflected in prices pretty quick.

I have heard of people using concrete re-enforcing mesh as a support for tomatos.  it has gaps that are about 4×4 inches which will work fine for getting tomatoes out.  But frankly, I find that stuff a bit unsightly and rugged looking.

 

But forget it.  Everything else is a complete and utter token mention.  Because in my humble opinion, anything and everything comes down to Tomato spirals.  They are basically stakes that twist; a straight section at the bottom that is about 18 inches and then a corkscrew shape/pattern right up to the top.  I bought one a couple years ago and increased to 5 this year.

For these spirals to work you end up training the LEAD stalk of the tomato plant around (and through) the centre of the spiral.  You allow side branches to grow and get burdened with the tomatoes.  But it seems that burden is easily beared by the branches because I’ve never had one snap.  The only caveat is that when the plants get huge and some of the lower side branches get as big as the entire plant, it seems necessary for me to have a few extra bamboo poles to support those branches.  But no big deal cause they usually support branches from more than one plant.

I CANNOT reccomend tomato spirals enough if you are a frequent tomato grower.  Invest in a couple and see how it does for you.

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