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How to Grow Tomato Plants

Here are some different methods on how to grow and support tomato plants:

Caging

How-to: Use concrete reinforcing wire or any sturdy wire mesh with holes you can put your hand through. (If you use chicken wire, harvesting will be difficult.) Create cages 5-6’ tall and 15-25” in diameter: stabilize with stakes.

Spacing: A general rule to follow is to set cages apart at a distance of 2/3 the plant’s final height. For example, if the plant is supposed to reach 15”, make sure you have 10” of free space on either side.

Tip: Place the cage around the plant after it’s been in the ground a week, but no more, because you can harm the roots when sticking the cage into the ground.

Pro:No additional work is required after setting the cage.
Con:Materials can be expensive and take time to set up.
Best for:Determinate and semi-determinate

Trellising

How-to: Use horizontal wires or wire mesh attached to stakes.

Spacing: At least 2’ apart to allow for drainage.

Tip: As plants grow, attach stems to stakes with soft twine or dry cloth.

Pro:Saves valuable space
Con:Plants need mulching to keep in moisture and heat
Best for:Determinate and semi-determinate

Stalking

How-to: Use 2x2” stakes that are 6-8’ tall; place 2’ of the stake in the ground.

Spacing: 18” apart for one-stem plants, 24” for two-stem plants, and 36” for three- or four-stem plants.

Pro:Saves valuable space
Con:Plants need mulching to keep in moisture and heat
Best for:Determinate and semi-determinate

Sprawling

How-to: Let the plant sprawl on the ground.

Spacing: 3’ apart, in rows set 4’ apart.

Pro:Fewer instances of sunscald and blossom-end rot; no setting up or tearing down of equipment
Con:More susceptible to certain disease, insects, dirt and scurrying predators such as chipmunks; plants set fruit 2-3 weeks later than plants that have been trained.
Best for:Indeterminate

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