There – I’ve done it, I’ve written a blog post title designed to provoke, to create controversy.
I recently trained a group of people on Communication & Social Media and one subject that we returned to reasonably frequently was dealing with ‘trolling’, ‘flaming’ and even the occasional bit of negativity in the comments section. Well, I am pleased to say that in over 3 years of blogging I’ve never really experienced any of these things, perhaps until now??? If there was ever a subject to incite comment though it is this.
Now clearly I am joking but to a great many gardeners staking tomatoes correctly is a serious business, indeed an art, and there are a range of techniques that people swear by. This is mine.
I use 3 upright stakes evenly spaced around the plant about 20cm away from its trunk. I put the stakes in either; when planting or as soon as possible afterward so as not to damage the roots.
I tie the branches of the plants to the closest stake as they grow. Personally I favour ripped pantyhose (or occasionally cut up t-shirts) as my tying medium of choice but any fabric, or relatively soft twine, will do provided it has a little bit – but not too much – of give to allow the plant to grow.
I never prune my tomatoes (again with the controversy), as I tend to be persuaded by the argument that pruning results in both less fruit and gives openings for disease to enter the plant. Hence the need for 3 stakes – unpruned tomato plants get pretty big.
I buy stakes as long (tall) as I possibly can. For me the limiting factor is what I can transport home. In general, the longer the better, but bear in mind you need to be able to reach the top to hammer them in. I stand on a chair, as I can rarely be bothered getting out the ladder, but there are probably better, and safer, things to stand on if you need vertical assistance. The other consideration in decided on stake length is what you are growing. Some tomato varieties grow a lot taller than others, for instance Tommy Toe and Tigerella easily outgrow even the tallest stakes but Rouge de Marmande can cope with slightly shorter supports.
And that’s about it. That’s how I stake tomatoes. I find the 3 stake technique works best for me, better than attempting to cage them (this may be a result of particularly pathetic attempts to cage them – a lot of commercial tomato cages are too short for the varieties I grow and my DIY skills are ordinary to say the least), and better than using a sole stake and pruning. How about you?