Trellises, stakes and cages
Now and again we all need a little support and it’s no different for plants, particularly vegetable plants. One of my favorite cherry tomatoes for flavor and a huge harvest is Baby Boomer tomato, but the plant can get weighed down by fruit. It definitely benefits from support. Whether you stake, cage or trellis is totally a matter of opinion. Since you didn’t ask, I’m going to offer my unsolicited opinion anyway.
Let’s start with trellises. There’s little disagreement that a trellis is best used for climbing or vining plants. Obviously pole beans need something to climb but did you know that cucumbers grow great on a trellis and it makes for much easier picking! I always grew cucumbers on the ground until one day I saw this method and I’ve never looked back. Your trellis can be made of wood, metal or even string if you’re creative. In urban locations, maybe grow them on a chainlink fence (if your neighbors don't mind).
The important thing is that you place it close to where the vines start growing so the plant can get off the ground immediately. You might need to check periodically to make sure the vines stay on, but you’ll be rewarded with a clean and easy harvest.
Stakes serve a lot of uses in the garden. You might use stakes to help hold a newly planted tree steady. Just be sure to not leave it more than a year. Some stakes are specially designed to help hold perennial flowers, like Peonies or Dahlias, up off the ground. While not essential, it does make for a pretty display.
In the vegetable garden, you can use stakes to make a teepee for vining crops or a single stake to help hold tomatoes and peppers upright off the ground. Personally I think this method is OK for peppers, but it is very labor intensive for tomatoes and I so prefer to put them in cages.
Cages come in all shapes and sizes and what you choose is a matter of preference, but I’ve found that small cages in the vegetable garden are only useful for pepper plants that might need a little extra help. Tomatoes, even determinate varieties, all need something more substantial. Because cages can be expensive, I’m inclined to buy something that I know will last longer.
I’m a big fan of Burpee’s Pro Series square tomato cage. I like the square shape because it folds flat at the end of the season and that makes it easy to store, but I really like it because it’s strong. It’s a heavier gauge metal and it comes in two powder coated colors. When you place this cage around your tomatoes shortly after planting, you know it’s going to stand strong even under heavy yields.
Whatever method you choose I wish you good luck with your veggie garden this year! Have tips or suggestions for your fellow gardeners? Share them in the comments section below. And be sure to share your photos with us on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram @BurpeeHG!