Staking Your Tomato Plants

by April Reinhardt
(last updated May 25, 2016)

If you've ever grown tomatoes, you know how satisfying it is to yield a good crop of juicy, ripe, large fruit. On the other hand, you probably also know how discouraging it is to find your tomatoes decaying on the ground and eaten by bugs because you couldn't find the time to stake them. While staking tomato plants might not provide a larger yield, staking can produce a better yield since the stakes pull the fruit off the ground, discouraging pests and rot, and making it easier to harvest them. Also, staked tomato plants have the advantage over ground plants in that they grow up instead of out, and are thereby forced to produce more poundage than unstaked plants. Staked tomato plants ripen earlier and grow larger than unstaked plants, but grow fewer tomatoes per vine. Here are some guidelines to follow to stake your tomato plants:

  • You can buy tomato stakes at your local home improvement store. Usually, they are made of rough-cut wood, at least six feet long, and pointed at the bottom for easy insertion into the garden dirt.
  • Use a hammer or mallet to pound the stake into the ground to a depth of one or two feet, and three inches from your plant.
  • Use cotton rags torn into strips, or coarse twine to tie the plants to the stakes. While you could use synthetic ties, they may cut into the plant's stems, and they certainly will not decompose at the end of the season. As your plants grow, anchor them to their stakes every twelve inches.
  • When a tomato plant reaches the top of its stake, pinch off the top of the plant and continue to do so the remainder of the growing season. Pinching off the top of the plant will help the plant focus its energy into growing larger fruit, and earlier ripening.

To avoid damage to the roots, always set your stakes at the same time you set out your plants. Set your stakes on the north side of your plants so that the small plant will not be in the shade of the stake. Keep in mind that tomatoes can suffer from sun scald, so make sure that they have healthy leaf cover. Staked tomatoes have the advantage over ground-grown tomatoes in that they have improved air circulation around their roots, fruits, and leaves. It is important, however, to make sure that your ties do not cut into the stems of the plants as they grow up the stake.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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