Growing Tomatoes: Support Systems

What's the best way to support your tomatoes?

By Doug Hall

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Tomato plants are floppy by nature. Left to sprawl, the plants are more disease-prone and fruit quality suffers. Choose a trellising system that lifts the plants off the ground and allows for air circulation.

Stakes

Install wood or rebar stakes, at least 6 feet tall, at planting time. As the plants grow, tie the stems loosely to the stakes with twine or strips of fabric.

Tomato Stakes
Photo: Christa Neu
Tripods and tuteurs
Photo: Rob Cardillo

Tripods and tuteurs

Fashion three stakes into a basic tripod for extra stability in windy regions; train a tomato plant on the upwind stake. Fancy tuteurs made of wood, bamboo, or bent twigs are the classier choice for ornamental kitchen gardens.

Check out our Tomato Tower!

Florida weave

Used commercially for determinate varieties, this training technique supports tomatoes with twine woven horizontally between rows of stakes.

Learn how to support your tomatoes with the Florida weave.

Florida Weave
Photo: Don Ferrin
Tomato Cages
Photo: Rob Cardillo

Cages

Cylindrical or square wire cages keep tomatoes upright without the need for tying the stems. Commercial versions tend to be small and flimsy, but homemade cages fashioned from livestock panels are strong and durable.

Build your own cages!

Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, April/May 2014

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