Garden Friday – Stakes or Cages

Garden Friday is a regularly scheduled feature on Our Mother’s Keeper.  Growing your own food, no matter the scale, helps both the pocketbook and the environment.  We anticipate that this space can be one that provides inspiration and answers questions regarding the planing, harvesting, and consumption of edible gardens.  Because gardening is very dependent upon your climate, please make sure you identify your general region (Wasatch Front, arid SW, Pacific NW, coastal, etc) when asking questions.

Now that the warmer weather is here, my tomato plants are growing a ton… lots of leaves and the first little green fruits are appearing.

You can let tomatoes run along the ground if you have a ton of space and a fairly dry climate.  Since I have neither on my city lot in the PNW, I need to get the plants off of the ground.  Sick and tired of storing and fighting with cages (and, honestly, finding someone to take my really used cages each time I’ve moved cities over the past few years), I decided to give staking a try this year.  I have to say that I really like it.  Every week or so I go out there and pick off the suckers (the little leaves in the elbows/v of the stem) to keep it down to one or two main stems and then use plastic tape to secure the main stem to the stake I put in the ground when I transplanted the plants.  It also gives me a chance to inspect the plants and everything is neat and tidy.

Do you have a strong preference for cages or stakes?  Why?

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11 responses to “Garden Friday – Stakes or Cages

  1. ajbc July 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I’m a stake and twine girl. I’m in the northeast, so sticks the length of my arm are abundant (and free), and twine is a trivial expense (2k ft for the cost of 5 tomato cages) and easy to store/transport. When the sticks break, or I’m done for the year, I can just toss them back in the woods where I found them.

  2. SilverRain July 1, 2011 at 7:20 am

    I bought these this year. They’re kind of a hybrid of stakes and cages. They seem like a great idea. The benefit of cages, but the compact storage of stakes.

    We’ll see if they work.

  3. laelyn July 1, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I have years-old cages that are bent and deformed but still useable but have supplemented them with stakes this year as I have lots more plants (started from heirloom seed this time).

  4. Nicole I July 1, 2011 at 9:04 am

    So it seems I’m not alone in thinking that stakes might be the way to go.

    One of the reasons I started thinking about stakes is we bought this house with TONS of bamboo (which I am already hating). Right away, it needed serious pruning and I thought… I just just use these as stakes for tomatoes, fruit trees, etc. If I can’t get it under control soon, the bamboo might disappear altogether but I think the stakes will stay.

  5. mfranti July 1, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I haven’t used stakes. I suppose I’m too lazy.

    Typically I use a trellis for the vining tomatoes and the cages for the Romas.

    I also use cages for red pepper plants.

    This year, I just planted Romas so they’re growing under the trellis. They always outgrow the large cages I give them s I’m hoping this will work better.

    The downside to having a permanent fixture for tomatoes is that I have to swap the soil out every year to compensate for not rotating the crop’s rotation. But it sure is nice having an architectural element in the garden.

  6. mfranti July 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I gave up trying to insert a picture into the comment.

  7. zaissa July 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Stakes seem harder. I am all about the cages…I have successfully grown small tomatoes on them and for me this is a HUUUUUGE accomplishment.

  8. mfranti July 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

    zaissa,

    What kind of tomatoes are you growing? If they are a vining variety, are you pruning them?

  9. Alliegator July 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I’m a cage person. My mom bought me these: http://www.gardeners.com/Stacking-Tomato-Ladder-Supports/39-387RS,default,pd.html several years ago for my birthday, and I love them. Regular cages aren’t tall enough.

    My tomatoes are finally starting to grow- my peppers still aren’t looking so great.

  10. Terry Bascom July 3, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I make simple tripods from spruce strapping, run a pole across the top, and dangle twine from the cross-pole to the plants. Just shorten the twine as the plants grow, or progressively tie the growing plant to the twine. This is just a variation of the way greenhouse tomatoes are grown, where ground space is at a premium. Total cost to me: $6 to “stake” 10 plants, and everything but the twine can be used year after year, making it cost-effective and green. (Photo at: http://www.woodchucksapprentice.com/views-of-the-garden-2011/)

  11. Nicole I July 3, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I’ve never seen (or known about) tomatoes done with a trellis. Very cool.

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