The Best Way to Stake Tomatoes is With a Piece of String.

In 2016 I experimented with a new way to stake my tomatoes because I’m never satisfied with anything, especially when it come to gardening. But every so often I find a tip, technique or trick and realize this is IT. THIS is the way it should be done.  Supporting tomatoes with a single string – is one of those things.

A row of 20 or so tomatoes being supported with individual strings going to each plant from an 8' high beam.

There has to be a better way.  There’s always a better way (unless it’s making french fries in which case McDonalds definitely has a lock on that).  I say that little mantra with pretty much everything I do, see or live with.

My living room?  Not quite right yet.  My dining room?  Ditto?  Backyard, bedroom, garden, thighs, ditto, ditto, ditto.  

And for many years staking my tomatoes was the same thing. Different methods worked but they weren’t quite right.

I’ve done cages, stakes, espaliering and the Florida Weave (which works well but still results in a big MESS of tomato plants.) 

My search for the perfect way to support tomatoes ended when I discovered and tried the string method. 

Supporting Your Tomatoes with String Not Stakes

Stringing is a method that up until recently was normally only seen in commercial greenhouses or the back fields of very astute hippie homesteaders. 

It requires nothing more than string and something to support the string from. Tomato stems are wound up the string as they grow.

Man with a beard in a plaid shirt runs hose to water in tomato plants being grown up a string on homestead.

I don’t know this guy. This guy is just stringing up his tomatoes.  Never met him.  Good photo though.

I had read about string training but never really thought about applying it to my own garden until a fellow community gardener who is even more nuts when it comes to research and trying new things than I am said he was going to be doing it. 

 

How to Use the String Method With Tomatoes

Stringing is literally allowing your tomatoes to climb up a single string.  Doing this, along with the pruning that goes along with the method results in SUPER neat and tidy rows of tomatoes.  

 

Pruning Tomatoes When Using the String Method

For stringing your tomatoes you have one of two choices for pruning.

  • The French Method which involves getting rid of allllllll other leaders and suckers other than your main tomato stem
  • The Missouri Method, which involves pinching out the suckers, but leaving a few leaves on to help give the tomato plant energy and the ripening fruit some shade.   Or something like that.  But who cares because we’re not doing it.
  • Pruning your tomatoes of all the suckers means that you will get less tomatoes, but they will be healthier and bigger.
  • If you’d like more tomatoes (but they’ll be smaller) you can use the French Method but allow the first sucker that develops over the first cluster of flowers to grow into another leader.  Each will need their own string to climb up with a minimum of 12″ between each string.

We’re doing the French Method you and I because it’s easier to keep track of and French which means it’s better, cooler, more elegant and has more swagger than anything else in the world has to offer.

An 18" high tomato plant supported by a string on a sunny day.

The French Pruning Method.

No suckers, no extra leaders. Only one stem with leaves coming off of it.

Here we go!

How to use the string method with tomatoes.

  1.  Run a wire, pipe or board between two 8′ high stakes. You can also use string in a pinch.

Newly planted tomatoes in a raised garden bed placed 12" apart with a string hanging down from a support for each to grow up.

 

2.   Tie a string every 12″- 18″  so it hangs down towards the soil. Plant your tomatoes at every string so they are also 12″-18″ apart.  

3. Secure the string to the soil at the base of your tomato with a garden pin by winding the string around the pin and shoving it in the soil. You can also wrap the string several time around the base of the tomato plant to secure it. (I use pins now, I used to just wind it around the base of the plant)

4. Remove any suckers that have formed. You can read more about how to identify suckers in this post here.

Woman demonstrates how to pinch off a sucker growing between the stem and branch of a tomato plant.

Removing a sucker. The shoot that grows between the main stem and leafy branch of tomatoes.

5.  Twirl your plants around the string once your tomato is around 12″ high and is getting its first set of flowers. 

A bright green tomato plant twisted around a green poly string that supports it.

 

6. Continue to remove suckers and twirl once a week until the end of summer.

Why You Should Remove Tomato Leaves

  • Removing the lower leaves as the plant grows is a good way to help reduce disease because the most devastating tomato diseases like blight are soil borne and when it rains, the spores splash up onto the tomato leaves, where it then travels up the plant until it eventually kills it. By removing the lower leaves, closest to the ground you can help slow down or prevent this from happening. 
  • Tomatoes form fruit from the bottom of the plant upwards.  Any leaves beneath tomatoes that are flowering or forming are just taking energy away from fruit production.  They’re using more energy from the plant than they’re giving back. Removing them directs more energy to the all the fruit above. 
  • Therefore, once you see the first set of flowers forming on your tomato plant, remove the leaves beneath it. 

 

 

3 rows of tomato plants grown without cages, using the string method instead, 18" apart in a large garden.

The first year I tried this method, I worked with what I had, which was stakes that were already planted in the ground every 18″. I just ran a string across the top of them all and hung my string down from that.

 

Green string winds around the stem of an heirloom tomato to support it instead of a stake or cage.

If you forget to prune out suckers and you’re facing a wild jungle of a tomato plant don’t be tempted to prune everything back at once.  Only take off 25% of the plant at any one time. Taking more will put the plant into shock, slow its growth a bit and make your tomato leaves curl.

If you notice curled leaves on your tomato, chances are it’s because you over pruned. Prune a little, then let the tomato plant recuperate for a week or so until you prune again.

A tidy row of tomatoes grow up strings towards the sky.

Tomato varieties that work with string training.

Indeterminate varieties vs determinate varieties. 

Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes keep getting taller and taller until they’re killed by frost. They can grow 9′ tall or more.

Determinate varieties (also called bush tomatoes) have a pre-determined height bred into them and will stop growing once they reach a certain height. Usually around 3-4′. 

This method is for indeterminate varieties of tomatoes.  The kind that can grow 9′ tall or more.  

Why String Training is Better Than Staking or Caging.

  • Strings can be left up from season to season.
  • You can fit more tomato plants into a smaller space.
  • Plants can grow as high as 8′ or more.
  • Keeping plants at one leader gives much better air circulation around the plants which helps keep them disease free.
  • String training can also be applied to growing beans like you see here, cucumbers 
How to Stake Tomatoes ... with String!

How to Stake Tomatoes ... with String!

Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $0

Whether you're new to gardening or not you're probably constantly searching for the best way to stake tomatoes. THIS is it.

Materials

  • Heavy string
  • 3, 8' stakes (2x2s work well)
  • tomato plants

Instructions

  1. Run a wire, pipe or stake between two 8′ high stakes. You can also use string in a pinch.*
  2. Tie a string every 12″- 18″  so it hangs down towards the soil. Plant your tomatoes at every string so they are also 12″-18″ apart.  
  3. Secure the string to the soil at the base of your tomato with a garden pin by winding the string around the pin and shoving it in the soil. You can also wrap the string several time around the base of the tomato plant to secure it. (I use pins now, I used to just wind it around the base of the plant)
  4. Remove any suckers that have formed. You can read more about how to identify suckers in this post here.
  5. Twirl your plants around the string once your tomato is around 12″ high and is getting its first set of flowers. 
  6. Continue to remove suckers and twirl once a week until the end of summer.

Notes

  • You can use any string but synthetic string that doesn't stretch is best. It will also last for years.
  • Biodegradable string like jute or twine can also be used as long as it's thick enough not to degrade and fall apart during the growing season. It should be replaced every year.
  • Never prune off more than 25% of foliage at one time.
  • You can allow your tomato plant to have either one or two leaders.
  • *to give extra support to your stakes hammer in a metal t post right next to each stake in the ground, then screw them together. Once your stake rots at soil level in a couple of years, it'll stay in place looking nice because of the t post.

Wanna see how the string method worked with a single tomato flat against a fence?  It would work flat against a house too.  Check out this post.

By the end of the summer you’ll have straight, tall tomatoes which get a lot of air circulation and a lot of sun. They’ll be bald at the bottom and producing healthy tomatoes at the top.

Hypothetically of course.

Because this is gardening and all hell could break loose at any moment. A wild band of twirling goats or screaming aphids could come barreling through your garden destroying everything in its wake.  

You just don’t know.

 

 
 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 
 

The Best Way to Stake Tomatoes is With a Piece of String.

110 Comments

  1. Leslie Russell says:

    I lived in England for a while and gardening took on a whole new dimension for me. Man, those people know what they’re doing. Sarah Raven, one of their celebrity gardeners, grew her tomatoes that way and called it twizzling. You just twizzle the stem up the string. I’ve used it ever since, and you’re right, after using every other damn thing in the world, twizzling a tomato plant up a string is the best way 😏

    • Karen says:

      England and European sites are GREAT places for learning fantastic tips. France especially (which is where England stole most of their ideas from, lol) ~ karen!

  2. Juana María Romero says:

    Hello from Spain!!!
    I was just thinking about you while I am checking my first-time-ever tomato mini garden. When I planted them, I remembered your article about the string and I decided to give it a try.
    Well, I thank you so much for your wise advice. I’ve already got flowers, and although I don’t know if I’ll harvest any tomatoes at all, the rewarding image of my healthy mini orchard makes me happy enough.
    I would like to send a picture, but I don’t know how. 🤷🏻‍♀️🖼️

  3. Clare McK says:

    If you have the space the broken off suckers can be grown on as cuttings, genetically identical to the parent, a bit behind the schedule but useful if you have a long growing season. Really late picked ones might keep until next year!

  4. Jacque says:

    I am sooooo late to the party. Thanks for this info. Buying string tomorrow. Right after I ferment some chicken feed! Love your blog Karen and especially jealous of your stylish chicken coop!
    Cheers,
    Jacque

  5. Karen Purpero says:

    So this comment is years late! I am planning to string tomatoes etc this year. You have stakes every 2 feet. How far apart COULD they be? And the people who made an A-frame: that looks hard. I’m a 55 year old little person!

    Also, just to be clear, when I’m first putting my seedlings in the ground probably in a week or two, they have several sets of leaves) should I go ahead and make a big loop at the base now? The stem is only a couple mm wide) or wait this the stem is bigger?

    I love your blog. I discovered you in a Farmers Almanac article. 🤗

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen! In the past few years I’ve used heavy duty garden staples (those long U shaped metal things that look like hair pins) to hold the string. I run the string straight down to the ground, wrap the string around the U portion of the staple several times and then stick it in the ground. It keeps the string a bit straighter and tighter. For now I’d just leave the tomato seedlings until they’re getting taller and stronger stems. But you can start pinching out suckers at this point if they appear. You can plant as close as 1′ apart, but if you want to have TWO leaders coming from each tomato I’d stick with at least 18″. Hope that helps! ~ karen! (another person who is little, but not a little person) :)

      • Karen Purpero says:

        Thank you! Johnny’s Seeds uses 9 gauge wire across the top and you use twine. Does twine have less tendency to sag with weight? Sisal? Hemp?

        • Karen says:

          Hi Karen. I have changed my set up. I use metal poles across the top (they’re actually old curtain rods) and the string I hang down is poly string so it doesn’t degrade and I can use it year after year after year. ~ karen!

      • Karen Purpero says:

        Me again! I feel like we’re friends now since I’ve asked you so many questions! Can you post a close up of how you attached the rods to the tops of the posts?

        • Karen says:

          At the moment, I cannot. :/ All I’ve done is drill a hole into the tops of the 2x2s and then bent stiff wire into a circle leaving 2-3″ ends that can be inserted into the drilled hole. This creates a circle you can run your rod through. If you zoom in you’ll be able to see what I’m talking about. ~ karen!

  6. Barry Careaway says:

    Hey y’all. My wife and i took a class at the University of FL on hydro greenhouse farming and you would be proud to know they stole your ideas with a few twists. They stretched a cable 8 foot above the tomatoes. same exact pruning method is used. They also used a roller string (you can let string out or tighten up) and plastic clips to attach to the stem . The cool thing; they also trim the bottom up to the tomatoes and when the plant grows over 8, they simple slid the roller above down the cable. So basically you could have a 20 foot tomato plant or more. The naked stem would come out of your medium, then curve to the left (or right) Then curve back up to the cable. One girl ssid she does 2 crops a year and gets 20 foot plus plants. We are trying this technique in a greenhouse and already have some 9 foot plants in Feb! Can’t wait to see what happens come spring😁

  7. Jan says:

    Why is everybody using string? String, especially when tightened, cuts tomato vines. I saved my old and run panty hose from working days, cut in strips, and use them as tomato ties. They are stretchy, and do not cut the vines.

    • Roselene says:

      That’s fine, if you wear pantyhose. I don’t, so string will be the go.
      I’ll try this method but without stripping out the suckers – burnt tomato is not my favourite crop.

      • Karen says:

        Burnt tomato? You don’t have to worry about having burnt tomatoes I don’t think. I guess it would depend on on whether you live on the Equator, but generally speaking you should be good. It’s how commercial growers grow their tomatoes and tomatoes thrive on the light that reaches them. It helps them ripen and come into colour more quickly. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve personally never had a vine cut from the string. I’ve had the string break by the end of the season if it’s cotton, but never cut off a tomato. I actually wouldn’t want a stretchy string like you’d get from panty hose because I want the string to be tight not flexible. But I’m sure the panty hose works well if you aren’t worried about that. Use what you have. ~ karen!

      • Jan says:

        Thank you. I worked more than 50 years during a time when pantyhose or stockings were the norm in office environment, so will continue to use as long as I can grow tomatoes, cukes, squash — anything that needs to be tied.

    • John T3 says:

      Jan is describing how she ties off her tomato plants (to a stake) for a traditionally staked tomato plant. Karen’s method is simply wrapping a string in a long spiral from the ground up the main stalk/leader to the top where the string is tied off to the horizontal support (pole, steel cable, heavy string, curtain rod, etc.). Particular attention is paid to wrapping the string under the “hand” of blossoms/tomatoes for max support. Two different methods.

  8. Helen D says:

    Hi Karen,
    I really enjoy your blog with all of the diverse topics that you cover. Keep up the good work!
    I’m trying this method on my tomatoes this year. I’ve only just put the tomatoes in the ground, so they’re still less than a foot tall right now. When do you suggest that I attach the string?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Helen. You can attach the string as soon as the tomato is able to be wrapped. You can probably do it now, but it’s fine to wait. ~ karen!

  9. I love this idea! I hope you don’t mind, but I referenced this in my recent blog post. Please let me know if that’s alright with you.

  10. Adela says:

    I absolutely love your article and style of writing. You are genuinely funny.. I actually laughed out loud at all your jokes.

  11. erin hall says:

    how do I know if i have determinant or indeterminate tomatos? i did not grow from seed. i only seem to murder those seedlings…. so i bought some

  12. Gilly Bean says:

    Do you think this would work on other vine type “crops” like cucumbers, beans, peas, strawberries….?

    I’m (hopefully) soon moving into an apartment that has really good sun and a teeny little space and want to pack as much growing in as I can.

    • Vicky Evans says:

      Yes it works on cucumbers & other crops. Squash & pumpkins need to have slings to support the weight of each one. Check out a book or website called The Mittleider Gardening Method. That is where I first learned about stringing vegetables.

  13. Victoria says:

    How far spart do you plant your seedlings when using this method?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Victoria. Technically you can plant them as close to 1 foot apart using this method, but I already had my stakes set at 2′ apart. :) ~ karen!

  14. Joanna says:

    I’m ready to string my tomatoes….do you have a favourite type of string that u use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna! Well, I like to use regular twine because it’s easy to knot and grabs well but it does have a tendency to stretch a little bit. I don’t like using nylon/synthetic twine because even though technically it will last a lot longer than natural twine it’s slippery and harder to tie into tight knots. But either will work. ~ karen!

  15. Jennifer Fraser says:

    So I’m a bit behind in reading this and haven’t read all the comments yet but that’s how I roll! Jump in both feet worry about the details late…any how. I have been growing my tomatoes this way a years. I set up two A frames with 6′ grade stakes with a 4′ stake across the top. The string (important that it’s heavy or at least doubled-tomatoes are heavy!) then I do what I just learned is the French method of training the plants up the strings. Works great and tomatoes are easy to see (so are those nasty not so little horn worms if you get them-by the way the chickens love those horn worms!) I really enjoy reading your posts. Thank you!

  16. sera says:

    I’m so jealous of your tomatoes. Every year, even while pregnant and even when I had no kitchen, I’ve somehow managed to do almost nothing and grow crazy tons of giant tomatoes. This year, I scaled back and only bought two tomato plants. This year I have a toddler. This year I have two 1-foot tall tomato twigs with two sad cherry tomatoes on them. Almost no leaves. No, I didn’t water them enough. Did I put too much compost in the soil? I have no idea. Everything is dead. DEAD I tell you. Except for the weeds of fennel that grow wherever they damn well please and thank you. I don’t even know how to get the fennel out of the ground to cook with it! Ugh. Yesterday my husband admitted to me that we both failed at summer. Failed. Here is to a future of summers full of growing actual tomatoes and doing all the other things I was hoping I could do. But toddler. Sigh.

  17. Connie says:

    That wobbly hammock under your arms? There’s an actual medical acronym for that. It’s known in professional circles as UADD. Under arm dingle dangle. So called by a flamboyant aerobics instructor. He had special arm motions to prevent the dreaded UADD and went on at great lengths about it. He was, as I said already, a professional aerobics instructor. Which means it’s a professional acronym.

    • Sanjoy Das says:

      In the Uk these are called “Bingo wings”. I really like this blog too. I am jealous of your guy who so casually produces perfect tomatoes, he must have his weak spots just like George Clooney. I grow wonderful rhubarb sweetcorn and globe artichokes. Luckily my wife understands me.

  18. Melissa Keyser says:

    I have never heard of this method before. Its way to late for me to try it, my tomatoes are 6′ high and taking over the world, but its something to think about for next year. Pruning out all the suckers seems like such a time commitment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Melissa! It wasn’t a big deal at all the take out the original sucker and then all I have to do is go around once a week and check to see if any more are growing for the stem. Because the plant is so sparse with just one main stem it’s incredibly easy to spot any of the suckers. Really is the neatest, easiest method EVER. ~ k!

  19. Benjamin says:

    I know you said you didn’t, but I think you secretly know that guy in the photo and you’re not telling us yet. Your clandestine tales of make-believe are probably all at least half true. Ssshhh, it’ll be our secret. Wink.

  20. Linda says:

    I think I’ll try the string method for next years garden. My potatoes did not do very well in the straw but the picture you took of the guy stringing up his tomatoes sure looked good!

    • Karen says:

      String method is working out GREAT so far. Like GREAT. I do not think I will get a single potato from my straw potatoes! No joke! It’s horrifying and I could cry! ~ karen

  21. Rachel San Diego says:

    I’ve seen the strung- up method used at one of our local semi-urban organic farms… That farm is always innovating new ways of growing things, and that’s what they do for tomatoes. And they are delicious right off the vine (u-pick Saturdays are awesome).

    Good luck with your tomatoes. And your arms. ???

  22. Dagmar says:

    Yummy, home grown tomatoes. The best summer dinner is sandwiches made with home grown tomatoes on bread and butter, or maybe mayo.

  23. Christina says:

    I can’t grow anything at all, but I’ve always wanted to try tomato trees like Disney World has. http://birdieguy.blogspot.com/2013/07/epcots-tomato-tree.html

  24. UrbanFarmKid Marti says:

    Ya know, sometimes, you’re a bit of a tease. I looked for the “see my tomato plants now on instagram.” Notta.

    But somewhat more painful… it’s frigging JULY down here, Karen. My plants are already five and six feet tall.

    In general, though, GREAT project. Will definitely be interested next summer.
    What do you have for killing squirrels? I’m ready to borrow Hounds from Hell to get after them.

  25. Sheryl says:

    I’m glad you clarified that you don’t know the man in the photo. I could already hear the questions…
    I tried the French method last year to grow my tomato plants, after deciding I just didn’t want the tangled top-heavy mess of tomato where the tomatoes grow and hornworms are feasting and you can’t see them through the mess. I used stakes instead of string, those 8’ green plant stakes from big box, and used twin to tie the plant at about 1’ intervals. It was pretty easy, and it worked very well. Lots of airflow, good visibility, and a good crop of tomatoes. My only problem was squirrels stealing my tomatoes! After waiting patiently for tomatoes to ripen, I would look out my window and see squirrels enjoying the fruits of my labor.
    With the string method, is there any concern with the string getting too tight around the stem as the vine grows?

    • Jennifer Fraser says:

      You just weave the stem around the string as the plant grows every couple of days. I have never had circulation problem…neither have my tomato plants!

  26. Linda in Illinois says:

    I would love to do this method as well, however, I have no space for 8′ poles. and how did you get them in the ground omgosh !.

  27. Karen, you are toying with us.

    Really…do you think we wouldn’t know this is the guy with the beard you brought home from the antique market? You say you don’t know him…humph..I believe she doest protest too much.

    Enjoy, girlfriend!

    …..Stringing the tomatoes, of course. ;-)

  28. Mindy says:

    I have neighbors who have done this three years in a row and it’s awesome.

  29. Erin says:

    Like Garth said, the bearded guy’s style of trellis works great for pole beans too. We had to learn the hard way that in our windy location, any trellis must be well anchored!
    This is my second year to use the French method on my hoop house tomatoes. Last year I didn’t keep up with removing the suckers and it was a mess. My goal this year is to be merciless with the pruning. Yes, I’ve got some curled leaves too.

  30. Darla says:

    This is how my blog reading goes…
    read blog, click on links to see if you are doing the florida weave (yes), see mention of canning tomato sauce, find tomato sauce recipe, print recipe….now I’m tired and I still need to can tomatoes.
    Anyway, I agree with Gail. It is just too hot here in Oklahoma to get rid of too much foliage, but I love the idea.
    Btw…once you get the arm waddle very few people can ever get rid of it.

  31. Garth Wunsch says:

    I’ve also done this for years with tomatoes, cucumbers and pole beans. Works wonders and great space saver. My A-frame is made of Maple saplings that I salvage from the bush and reuse many years. Your friends installation is very neat and well built, but he will have a lot of work moving it next season… if he wants to help avoid disease by rotating his crop. I mulch heavily with straw and plant green onions and lettuce along the free understory area. Mulching is amazing – I can weed my 1200 square foot garden in under five minutes once a week.

  32. Katie C. says:

    I’ve seen this method done on TV by huge nurseries, but I didn’t realize actual people did it!

    This is my first year with a vegetable garden and there’s just so much information! I want to try everything.

  33. Gail Blain Peterson says:

    I do the Florida weave method. In NW Kansas is it HOT and if we remove all the excessive foliage the tomatoes will scald, sunburn, etc — actually sometimes they do even with the excessive foliage. So messy looking tomato rows are my reality.

  34. Eileen says:

    Goats, screaming aphids…or you can discover the world’s cutest little bunny in your yard…and then discover that all your bean and okra seedlings are nothing but tiny stalks gasping their last. And it’s way too late to do this with my sorry looking lot of tomatoes this year. Which is probably why said bunny has left them alone? Yesterday I had an attack of “mean” and sprinkled cayenne all around the remaining seedlings. (and boy, do I feel guilty)

  35. Victoria says:

    I do a version of this with my red and yellow jelly bean tomatoes. I’ve made frames by bending electrical conduit into 4 foot wide 8 foot tall trellises. 2 pieces of 10 foot conduit bent at the 2 foot mark, then join the short ends with a little joint brackets. Jam the long ends into the ground and string six pieces of string hanging down. Yes, I have to use a step ladder to set it up!
    I plant 2 plants under the trellis and prune them so I have 3 strong branches from each plant, training each up a string. Every year they grow up and over the trellis! It is sooo easy to find the tasty little jelly beans because the plant is flattened out.
    New string each year but the frames can be popped out and stored in the garage. Though my dad has been known to leave his up all winter and string up Christmas lights…

  36. Mel says:

    The string tie method is how my Bulgarian grandfather grew tomatoes in his glasshouses, commercially- so with great success!

    As for the arm skin thing- here in Oz we call those bat wings, tuckshop arms, bingo wings or if you’ve seen the show Kath ‘n’ Kim ‘fadoobadahs’… :) Mine are awesome when writing on the blackboard at school!!

  37. jainegayer says:

    I understand the french method has way more swagger but that guy in the blue jeans seems to have some swagger going on. Are you sure you don’t know him? What’s this blog about, stringing tomatoes? I need coffee.

  38. Ann says:

    you made the comment that you can string tie indeterminates but not hybrids. But I think that you might have to replace hybrid with determinate, which is the lower growing, everything gets ripe at once kind of tomato. Hybrids can be either determinate or indeterminate.

    My tomatoes are looking wonderful right now. But the stink bugs keep bothering the fruit so we have to pick it the second there is any color at all to them and bring them in to finish ripening. So of course, right now I have no kitchen counter tops available to do anything with. But it is very very colorful!

    • Karen says:

      Yes that’s true. I always use hybrid and determinate interchangeably all the timeeven though they’re not the same, lol. In *most* but definitely not all cases hybrids are usually determinate. ~ karen!

      • Thom Spengler says:

        Karen, that’s simply not true. Most of the big seed companies (e.g. Burpees) promote F1 hybrids, because those hybrid’s seeds will not breed true to the parent plant. So you buy their seeds every year. Look at a Burpee catalog; the great majority are hybrids. The words determinate & indeterminate are the proper descriptors.

        Of course that’s a minor flaw in a wonderful article… would appreciate more pix of cordoned tomatoes in August, after a bit of production. Thanks.

  39. Carswell says:

    When my ex and I first bought the house I now own we had a big veggie garden in the back. After doing a bunch of reading, looking at beautiful pictures of potagers and whatnot – and because I love just about any kind of garden structure and trellis – we built a support system like the one in the first pice and grew a truckload of tomatoes.

    That system works extremely well, keeps the tomatoes amazingly neat and accessible, ensures the ripening tomatoes get lots of sun and is, as an added bonus, inexpensive.

  40. Rita says:

    This is the only way I’ve ever grown tomatoes. I didn’t even realise other ways existed. Maybe that’s just my Englishness (is that even a word?) showing….

    It can still get messy though. Believe me…. ?

    • joanne says:

      Rita, this is what I’ve always done as well. I didn’t know there was a name for it, just knew that it kept the garden tidier (and that way, if the nasty tomato hornworm comes back, you can actually see where he is causing damage, and then hopefully find the gross green giant icky bug and smash it.

  41. Courtney says:

    Do you propagate your suckers into new plants ? I toss mine in an old maple syrup bottle in my kitchen window for a week then plant em out succession style.

    • Karen says:

      Nooooooo, lol. I don’t have any need or space for more tomatoes, lol. But I have propagated suckers of cherry tomatoes later in the year to grow on a windowsill indoors throughout the winter. Works great. :) ~ karen!

  42. Bambi Mayer says:

    I don’t have a garden yet and don’t see one in the near future but loved the post. One question….will you please, please, please post a good tutorial on how to do the bat wing underarm self-surgery when you figure it out. I have the utmost confidence in you, so I know you will perfect the technique!

  43. Lynn says:

    I am also looking forward to your garden . This year we only planted a few zucchini , yellow and green beans. As we knew the yard was going to get revamped . In short we have built a new shed, a green house, redid the main raised garden beds , shrunk a deck and are in the process of screening in the carport. That all said I miss our garden an I am on pins an needles as I await news of yours .

    • Karen says:

      Because I took on TWO gardens this year (not including my front yard garden) they’re both a bit of a mess while I get things figured out. By next year it should be better. ~ karen!

  44. Cred says:

    I did the string method this year, too. I don’t have near as many tomatoes but I had to build a bamboo A-frame with a horizontal pole spanning them (like a swing set) because I can’t seem to drive a stake deep enough before hitting a rock. I tie the string to the plant base and run to the top horizontal pole. Seems to be working quite well.

  45. Alita says:

    I use this method for cordons too. I put the loose end of the string under the rootball when I plant it and, as the plant’s roots grow, the string is secured.

  46. Kathleen says:

    Is leaf curl a bad thing? Never heard of it before… Google here I come! Again! I seem to do a whole lot of research after reading your posts. :) filling up the gaps in my ‘useless but interesting’ memory banks!

  47. Barbie says:

    TOTALLY doing this next year. Have cut my garden by 3/4 this year. To much to do and even that keeps me busy. Tomatoes are going crazy, but like you said all hell could break loose at any moment and tomato beetles are threatening to destroy everything! Drives me crazy and I’m discouraged.

  48. Gayle'' says:

    Julie, crushed egg shells can help reduce blossom end rot. I tried it one year and it worked pretty well. It’s all that calcium in the shells. Just scatter them around the base of the plants.

  49. Marna says:

    I will be following you to see how it works out. Well not that I would do it, just too much for me
    these days, but I am interested. My dad tried it all years ago, he had the best luck with concrete wire and making a large cage of it with 1x4s cut in half long way . I swear he had the best tomatoes, sweet and huge, even the ones that were suppose to be smaller. I think it was the chicken poop he added! LOL! Good luck!

  50. JulieD says:

    yay! I do my tomatoes that way too! If you tie a slip knot at the top you can loosen the string when you’re winding them, to make it easier, then tighten it right up after. Last year i still lost a lot of my tomatoes to blossom end rot though, due to a failed experiment. Works great when it’s done the right way though.

    • Karen says:

      I have to say I’m a convert JulieD. I love this method and I’m already seeing more tomatoes per plant than I ever do on the heirlooms. My great potato in straw experiment is not going as well I don’t think, lol. I’ll be doing a garden update soon and talk all about it. ~ karen!

    • E.J. Humphrey says:

      JULIED…Blossom End Rot is caused by inconsistent watering, not by lack of calcium.
      http://www.gardenmyths.com/blossom-end-rot/

      • Darwin says:

        I disagree. I tried following the consistent watering technique but still could not get rid of blossom end rot. Then I tried adding ground up egg shells to the planting hole and I haven’t had end rot since. I’ve continued to water the way I always have. I’m 100% sold on egg shells.

        • Donna says:

          I use egg shells as well. II also layer a handful of Epsom salt in the hole cover with dirt and then plant the tomatoes in the hole. The Epsom salt is an old farmers trick. Plenty of tomatoes on the vine.

      • Lynn says:

        I had blossom rot this year on two of my plants. After ONE application of a lime solution to lower the pH of the soil it went away. I’m a convert!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *