It is tomato season people! I am spotting my first ripened tomatoes and am looking forward to all the great things I will be making with them this fall!
My favorite tomato products to make are salsa, roasted tomato soup, crushed/diced tomatoes, tomato paste and all sorts of experiments. Some of the experiments we have tried in the past are barbecue sauce, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce!
Most people know that in Wisconsin you can’t direct transplant tomato seeds, so back in March we started our little guys inside, and easy to say…they are not so little anymore.
The last few years I have been looking for the best way to stake up tomatoes and here are the options I have found.
-Tomato cages: okay if you have one or two tomato plants, but begins to get costly after more than a couple cages. Tomato cages are not the strongest either, the tomato plants will take down these small on the bottom to larger on top cages. I have seen the larger on bottom and smaller on top, but those don’t seem to hold up well either. Lastly, these can be constricting on large tomatoes (as you can see in the picture below). There are some tomato cages that people make that are completely the same size in diameter all the way up, and these are great cause they tend not to flop over as easily, but if they do you can support them with a stake. These same diameter tomato cage also have larger holes to reach the fruit so this is a great option, especially if you can find some wire and make your own! The large diameter ones can also be made bigger so the tomato can spread out and take off.
-Bamboo sticks: currently I use bamboo sticks and tie the tomato plant to the stick; the problem I run into with these is the bamboo sometimes isn’t even strong enough to hold up the tomato plants and they flop over. If the strength of one bamboo stick fails though, I can go to a tripod made out of the sticks and tie them all up. That seems to work well and harvesting is easy to do and easy to see ripe fruit.
-Twine support: I have only read about this method, but the bigger organic producers I read about seem to love this method because it allows you to get a bigger yield in a smaller space (as you are going vertical). You take your plants and prune them to a single stem and remove all the side shoots. Tie strong untreated twine loosely at the base of the plant and attach it to an overhead support (which should be about 8 ft overhead). As the plant grows the twine can be twisted around the stem or the stem can be supported with clips, and when the plant reaches the overhead support it can go through a process called lowering. That is all I am going to say about this technique until I get a chance to try it out, and believe me that may be next year! 😉
Well I am actually off to put my bamboo stakes in tripod formation because some of these plants have really taken off and are taking down the plants, and nobody wants that!
Happy tomato harvesting and look for some awesome pictures coming out for things with tomatoes!