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Why Staking Tomatoes Is The Best Method for Backyard Orchards.

The purpose of staking tomatoes: keeping your plant healthy.

If you are growing tomatoes, staking tomatoes is one thing that will always come to your mind when you see them growing rapidly. The determinate variety or bushy type remains a bit smaller but it still needs something to lean on. But if you are growing the indeterminate variety, they keep growing taller and stops to grow at a certain height. However, when the fruits become heavy, winds can knock them about easily that’s why they need support to remain rooted and still carry the fruits. You can make your own stakes or use a ready-made bamboo stake, wires or strings, and tomato cages to support the plant. The most important thing is that the stakes should be sturdy and remain steadfast in its position throughout the growing season.

staking tomatoes with bamboo poles.
Bamboo stakes have been used for centuries to grow and support the weight of vegetable plants Staking tomatoes will ensure a healthier crop and larger yield.

If you want to purchase staking material from the garden shop, make sure it is not too short. It is not right to use short stakes, especially for larger growing tomato varieties. Your target stake height should be around 1.8m. If you are making use of stakes, you will be required to tie straying branches on to the stakes as the plants continue to grow. Ensure the cloth is soft, maybe a T-shirt cloth or even a jute twine would do. The reason for using a soft cloth is to prevent the fragile stems as well as branches from being damaged. The damaged part may introduce disease to the plant as well. However, cages have their own benefits. If you are using cage-like structures, you don’t have to do too much tying, but to stuck in the branches as the plant grows.

PVC stakes for tomatoes
Tomato stakes are commonly found in any hardware store, in this picture we can appreciate pvc poles used to hold the tomatoes upright.

Benefits of supporting tomatoes with stakes.

First, let’s say you are planting on a commercial scale then what do you want to achieve at harvest time? The answer for every gardener would be to increase yield. There are studies that prove that staking tomatoes or other vegetable crops can increase yield two or three times. It also improves air circulation which in turn reduces the incidence and spread of diseases and risk of fungal problems. If you have limited space, then a good way to cultivate more crops even with limited space is staking.
Also, staking will expose the plant’s leaves properly to adequate sunlight. Tomato plants need as much sunlight as they can get to grow well. In addition, the fruits are also protected from rotting when they are taken off the ground. The fruit’s quality also remains intact and healthy until harvest time. Harvesting is also a bit easier when stakes are used. The grower, do not need to strain his or her waist too much by bending down to pick up fruits. Stakes will make it possible to harvest the fruits while standing upright.

staking tomatoes in the open field
The disadvantage os staking tomatoes is that the tomato plant will be subjected to mechanical stress as clips or twine needs to be used to fasten the main plant´s stalk to the pole. The other problem is the fact that when tutored on a stake, the plant will tend to be clustered and the leaves not well distributed, shoots will have little support.

Overall one may argue that using tomato stakes is not the most efficient method to train a tomato plant as the mechanical handling by personnel will be a source of contagion of pathogens as a diseased plant will be come in contact with the hands of the person doing the staking, these hands will then touch healthy plants and spread the disease just like any white fly or thrip would.  Considering a worker can come in contact with thousands of plant in one day, one can imagine the devastating effects of manually fastening vegetable plants to poles.  Also one more phyto-sanitary consideration is that wood or bamboo stakes can be carriers of fungi or insects that will nest in the crevices of the poles.

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