This year, get ahead of the game by staking your tomatoes and peppers the right way!
I’m sure you can relate… your tomato and pepper plants are thriving and getting so tall, and then suddenly, they’ve fallen over onto the ground and they look terrible. We’ve all been there. It’s sad, and once the plant is that big there’s not much you can do about it. That’s why we need to be proactive.
Like I always say, “The 5 Ps”: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance! 🙂
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Using Bamboo Poles for Staking Tomatoes & Peppers
My favorite way to train tomato and pepper plants is to use bamboo stakes. These all natural sticks are so much better than metal rods or stakes because they don’t get blistering hot in the summer and burn your plants. They’re also a renewable resource, compostable, and affordable. I buy the long ones and cut them in half because they’re cheaper than buying them already cut.
We stake our tomatoes and peppers to wire cages. You can use store-bought circle wire cages, but we made our own one year to save a tone of money. Using a roll of fencing, Dr Z cut lengths of the fence out and wired it into circles. This ended up being a ton cheaper for staking tomatoes and peppers than buying pre-made hoops for each plant.
The other benefit of using homemade tomato cages is that we can customize the height and give each tomato plant the size support it needs. Some varieties will grow as tall as you are no problem so give them room to spread out!
Why Stake Tomatoes & Peppers?
Many tomato varieties will continue to grow throughout the entire season. This makes the plants very heavy which will pull the vines over onto the ground. Fruit that is touching the ground will rot! Plus it’s much harder to harvest.
So we always stake our tomatoes and peppers to keep the vines healthy, minimize the spread of disease, and make harvesting easier. Plus by staking each tomato plant to a trellis, support, or wire cage, the sunlight can reach all the leaves. Your plants will be much healthier.
How do You Start Tomatoes & Peppers?
We start almost all our tomatoes and pepper plants by seed and we always use heirloom seeds for our flower, herb and vegetable plants. Once they are off to a good start indoors, we transplant them to bigger pots and begin to harden off our tomatoes and pepper plants. Soon they will be ready to transplant into the garden!
When we transplant them into the garden, we use small “toothpick” like supports. But it doesn’t take long for the sunlight to help the tomato and pepper plants grow! Soon we need to upgrade the supports to these large bamboo sticks. Buy the biggest pack you can get and reuse the bamboo sticks year after year to save yourself time and money.
Recommended Supports for Tomatoes & Peppers
You can adapt your support size to the size of your tomato plant or pepper plant. With my seedlings I use a skewer or toothpick type stick (all natural wood material of course). Once my plants are in the main garden area and growing quickly I upgrade.
I love the longer bamboo stakes for my tomatoes and peppers. They are available in 4-8′ lengths, so they are very flexible for whatever varieties you have in your garden. The sturdy nature and durability of bamboo is a plus also – they will last for more than one growing season.
Be careful of the type of twine/tie you use! I used to repurpose bread ties but in our hot southern summers they rotted away and the wire would cut the tomato plant stems. This hurts the plants and makes it easier for disease to ruin your harvest.
By contrast, this velcro style plant tie is not only soft, so they won’t damage the plant, but it’s reusable too. You can cut them to the length you need AND you can reuse it for more than one growing season. Win/win.
Staking your tomato plants keeps the garden tidy, helps prevent disease, and makes it easier for you to harvest your homegrown produce. Learn more gardening tips and tricks in our Organic Gardening Made Easy Class with Mama Z!
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