No-Stake Tomatoes? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 05-15-2009, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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anyone ever just plant your tomatoes and let them grow naturally?

i really hate the idea of buying, or even making cages/stakes. i read online that some people do not stake and it can work well with smaller varieties (cherry, paste). anyone ever done this? what advice can you give?

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#2 of 32 Old 05-15-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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My grandma has done this for over 60 years.
I plan on staking mine, but I do have a few varieties, such as the homeland hybrid which claims to be small and not needing of stake.

I think the only problem is some of the toms will rot from being in contact with the ground. I have heard that mulch can help. My grandma just lets them grow all over and gets a pretty good harvest.
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#3 of 32 Old 05-15-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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I did some caged and some on the ground last year. You lose more to bugs and rot since they are on the ground, but I think if you're out there picking every day, it should be ok. They really do spread out.
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#4 of 32 Old 05-16-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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No.
I don't have that big of a yard.

Now, if you're talking about just one or three tomato plants, by all means. When you start talking about dozens of tomato plants because you're trying to put up enough for the year, at least in my yard, I need cages or trellises or something. Add in the slugs that patrol the ground, the torrential rain that'll really get fruits laying right on the ground (vs. up in the air), and neighborhood cats and dogs that escape into our yard, and yeah.

Oh, and some of my determinate tomato plants? Will literally fall over to where the thick, stocky main stem is close to breaking from the weight of all the fruits. I have to do something to support them if I want to eat/harvest any of the yummy, sweet tomatoes from those ones rather than have to compost them all.

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#5 of 32 Old 05-16-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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What about hanging them in a basket or upside down? Does that work? I'd love to plant tomatoes , but I'd like to be able to keep them away from chickens and animals.

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#6 of 32 Old 05-17-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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I did it last year, it was a mess! I also planted them too close together. I had a huge pile of tomato plants that collapsed on to itself! I couldn't get in the middle to find any, and the chipmunks wreaked havock! they ate all of them before they were ripe! After they collapsed, i couldn't stake them because they were too tangled and heavy, they would break if i tried! My problem was partly because of my close planting though!
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#7 of 32 Old 05-17-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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We live in a condo & planted some in large pots 2 years ago & let them "run." Some drooped down enough to touch the ground, but they were in contact with cement, not wet earth, & did not rot. It worked fine for us, but I don't have any experience with planting them right in the ground & letting them run.
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#8 of 32 Old 05-17-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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I have been wanting to try this method ever since my 90-year old neighbor told me his mom used to grow tomatoes by the yard full just by planting in cow manure and covering with, hay?, I think. They had more tomatoes that way than they knew what to do with. This was in South Texas.

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#9 of 32 Old 05-18-2009, 02:26 PM
 
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I have 3 tomato plants this year and only one of them got a cage. It was over 2 feet tall and already ready to break a week after transplant. The other two are bush varieties though and shouldn't need cages at all.

Another option is the upside down planter.

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#10 of 32 Old 05-18-2009, 04:49 PM
 
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My dad always just let them spread out on the ground. He was from Europe and said that he'd never seen a staked tomato till he moved to the US.
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#11 of 32 Old 05-19-2009, 09:33 AM
 
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Think - Tomato Jungle



I didn't stake one year and hated it!

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#12 of 32 Old 05-21-2009, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for all the replies :

i have about 12 cherry tomato plants and maybe 8 roma plants.

i maybe should have planted them farther apart but i a going to give it a try.

since we started them all from seed...really all i have to loose is about $5 in organic seeds...i'll let you all know what happens!

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#13 of 32 Old 05-23-2009, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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the stalks look strong so i can't wait to see what is going to happen!!!

i also planted borage in between each plant because not only does borage attract beneficial insects but i heard that borage planted near the tomatoes will give them a good flavor.

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#14 of 32 Old 05-24-2009, 12:07 AM
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If you are using determinate tomatoes, it might be less of a disaster. Roma tomatoes are determinate, so it might be ok. They won't just grow and grow and grow and grow and get super viney like indeterminate tomatoes will. I'd still stake them, personally.

Most cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, though. I'd definitely stake those.
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#15 of 32 Old 05-24-2009, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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so, has anyone ever grown/seen/talked to someone that didn't stake cherry tomatoes specifically? since they are so small and lightweight, i was thinking it may not be a disaster

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#16 of 32 Old 05-24-2009, 09:15 PM
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Cherry tomatoes are small and lightweight yes, but so are their stems and branches. I think they would be just as likely to snap or end up on the ground as their larger counterparts. But I'm really not an experienced gardener, maybe someone else can chime in with more thoughts.
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#17 of 32 Old 05-24-2009, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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true....i am hoping the stems don't snap but if they touch the ground it will be ok (maybe) because from what i have been reading the no-stake tomatoes do often touch the ground and you may loose some but not all of them to slugs, rot, etc.

i am so excited to see what happens....i am really only interested in the romas so i can put them up to make sauce with but i don't even like cherry tomatoes...i was just going to sell them at market and maybe DH will eat a few of them since he kinda likes them. so, if it is a disaster all i really lost was the $2 seed pack and a little time and effort

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#18 of 32 Old 05-25-2009, 03:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reducereuserecycle View Post
so, has anyone ever grown/seen/talked to someone that didn't stake cherry tomatoes specifically? since they are so small and lightweight, i was thinking it may not be a disaster
I did have a little cherry tomato plant (Red Robin if you're curious) that I'd attempted to put in the ground a bit before I should have (it ended up cooking in a cloche when we were out of town). It only got to about 8-10 inches tall. I had to prop it up with a tent stake because the dozen cherry tomatoes were too heavy for the thinner-crayola-marker-sized stem.


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Originally Posted by reducereuserecycle View Post
true....i am hoping the stems don't snap but if they touch the ground it will be ok (maybe) because from what i have been reading the no-stake tomatoes do often touch the ground and you may loose some but not all of them to slugs, rot, etc.

i am so excited to see what happens....i am really only interested in the romas so i can put them up to make sauce with but i don't even like cherry tomatoes...i was just going to sell them at market and maybe DH will eat a few of them since he kinda likes them. so, if it is a disaster all i really lost was the $2 seed pack and a little time and effort
Don't forget you can dehydrate cherry tomatoes - just slice in half and you're good to go.

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#19 of 32 Old 05-26-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by reducereuserecycle View Post
so, has anyone ever grown/seen/talked to someone that didn't stake cherry tomatoes specifically? since they are so small and lightweight, i was thinking it may not be a disaster
The few times I've done cherry tomatoes, I haven't staked them. But I was also growing them in a container on a patio, which limits their growth as well.

Romas in containers also don't necessarily need to be staked. I do generally cage my container-grown romas, but they don't really depend on the cage the way some of the gigantic tomato plants do.
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#20 of 32 Old 05-26-2009, 07:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by reducereuserecycle View Post
so, has anyone ever grown/seen/talked to someone that didn't stake cherry tomatoes specifically? since they are so small and lightweight, i was thinking it may not be a disaster
We don't stake tomatoes at all, but we also have raised gardens too, so that plays a part. My ma never had cages and always had a messy, but really bountiful tomato patch.

Last year we had a few tangles of lemon drop and some kind of grape tomatoes that did just fine with no staking too.
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#21 of 32 Old 05-27-2009, 02:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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one of my cherry tomato plants already fell over...not sure why, but it did happen after a mild rainfall. the stalk still looks fine though-it didn't break or anything. the tomatoes are microscopic right now, so it wasn't the weight of them.

as far as messiness...i am an extremely messay gardener. dh hates it but it doesn't bother me one bit so this no-stake tomatoe things should fit with the rest of my jungle of a garden..haha

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#22 of 32 Old 05-27-2009, 02:40 PM
 
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We were at our friends house this last weekend and he had 2 "wild" tomato plants that just popped up out of nowhere. They are huge and uncaged - like big shrubs growing up a slope and then tumbling over the side of a small retaining wall. They are about 4 feet wide and covered w/ flowers and we even picked 6 or 7 cherry toms to eat - yummy!

At home, mine are all still green so this was a treat. I'll see if I can get a picture to post.

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#23 of 32 Old 05-28-2009, 02:42 PM
 
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I don't stake mine, I put down a layer of fresh wood shavings when the plants begin to fruit. It prevents the tomatos from rotting and they stay pretty much weed free.

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#24 of 32 Old 05-28-2009, 04:09 PM
 
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It depends on the tomato. "Field" tomatoes aren't staked--they're a short-bushy determinant tomato. And cherries would be okay, but they'll sprawl and the tomatoes at the soil level will probably get chewed or rot quickly.

The beefsteak and slicing type tomatoes almost always need to be caged somehow. The fruit gets too heavy, and the bush topples over or stems snap--you will usually lose a lot of fruit as stems snap before they're ripened.
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#25 of 32 Old 07-02-2009, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my no-stake tomatoes are doing excellent~!~ we have picked some of the romas and cherry tomatoes and they are perfect. i have borage planted in between the tomatoes, so between the borage and the weeds, the tomatoes are not even touching the groud. i am so glad i didn't waste time, effort, and resouces staking them. definately will grow them again this way next year

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#26 of 32 Old 08-19-2009, 09:55 AM
 
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I know this is kind an old thread, but I am curious how this is going for you?

I didn't stake my cherries, I have 9 of them throughout a tiny garden. They have sort of woven themselves throughout all the other veggies, and are so happy. I mulched heavily, and none are rotting. I have a toddler who likes to pick when they are green and throws them on the mulch. Those ones are turning red and perfect if I leave them. They garden looks really pretty this way, too. I was avoiding stakes and caged b/c i have a front yard garden and a toddler who would rip the cages out besides. It feels a little crazy that it should be this easy.

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#27 of 32 Old 08-19-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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We didn't stake anything this year and while it is a mess all of our plants are thriving! A few of them even took root again where the stalk came in contact with the ground.....
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#28 of 32 Old 08-19-2009, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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it's going great for me!!! :

the cherry tomatoes have not had any problem except a few that split from the excessive rain

the romas have also done great except some of the ones near the ground have large holes that were bitten out by some little mammels...to me it is cute, not a problem.

so, now i am totally sold on the no-stake tomatoes.

also, i have borage planted heavily throughout the tomatoes since i heard that gives them a better flavor (and attracts beneficial insects) and in a way the thick borage sorata creates the same effect as light staking.

glad to hear the no-stake is working out for you all too....and i am with you Angierae...could it really be this easy

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#29 of 32 Old 08-19-2009, 02:21 PM
 
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I bought the awful, really flimsy "cages" sold at garden centers everywhere... so in a way I didn't stake at all. The plants were a lot stronger than the cages and the vine-y ones ended up all over the ground. I wouldn't recommend it, personally... a lot of our fruit was wasted, especially the big beefsteaks. But then, I love the image of a neat, tidy veg garden as opposed to the jungle we have out there. Your milage may vary!

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#30 of 32 Old 08-31-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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We pretty much did this. When they got really huge we kind of built a border around them to hold them up.
Here are some pics:
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