Ties That Bind
If you grow large tomato plants, you know they need to be supported. Staking is one of most common ways to keep plants off the ground. Normally the tomato vines are attached to stakes with wire, twine, or cloth strips. However, none of these materials is without problems. Wire and twine can easily cut into tomato vines as they grow, while cloth strips can rot and tear apart causing plants to fall down late in the season. Here's where a little modern technology comes to the rescue.
Tomato Ties are flexible nylon strips with fabric fastener that are strong enough to support a plant heavy with fruit, yet not cut into vines or decay. A package of 12 inch long soft, flexible strips come in narrow (3/4 inch wide) and wide (1-1/2 inch wide) sizes for different uses as described in the accompanying instructions. The fasteners allow you to easily adjust the ties during the growing season, and the ties are durable enough to be reused year after year. Although designed for tomatoes, Tomato Ties can be used to support flower stalks of delphiniums and hollyhocks as well.
One package contains enough strips and fasteners to support 6 large tomato plants and costs around $15.
Charlie Nardozzi is senior horticulturist at National Gardening.
Photography by Sabin Gratz/National Gardening Association.