The Q&A Archives: Staking Tomatoes

Question: Do you prefer staking or cages for your plants?

Answer: There are many advantages and disadvantages to each and it really is left to the gardener's personal preference. The type of tomato you are planting should be a consideration. Some advantages of staking are: it saves space, you can grow more plants in a given area, earlier harvest, easier to pick tomatoes and work around plants, keeps vines off the ground keeping fruit clean and less susceptible to rot. Some disadvantages of staking: takes time and effort to stake, train, and prune plants, staked tomatoes are more susceptible to cracking, blossom end rot and sunscald, total yield of staked plants is often lower. Some advantages to caging include: you spend less time removing suckers, pruning, and training plants, plants grow naturally and support themselves, caged tomatoes develop enough foliage to provide adequate shade for ripening fruit and to protect the fruits from sunscald, shaded soil retains more moisture. Some disadvantages of caging: cages are expensive, cages require more space, in late summer some tomatoes (such as indeterminate varieties) tend to fall over from the weight of the fruit. In my garden I prefer varieties such as Oregon Spring, Sub-Arctic Maxi and First Pik...these do not require staking or caging. They are widely available and fairly low maintenance.

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