tips + how-tos

supporting fussy tomatoes

Nothing is more exciting than seeing your garden take off… And there is nothing more upsetting than to see it start to unravel.

Recently, we talked about how tall our tomatoes were getting, particularly the Mortgage Lifters. I have read they can get up to 10 feet tall! We were well on our way to seeing such heights until our bamboo stakes broke under the pressure and our tomato plants took a slight plunge. (That’s them laying on the ground in the back corner.)


About a month ago, we made a late night run to snag some trashed bamboo off the side of the street. (Someone up the road was redoing their landscaping.) We were elated with restocking our bamboo pole needs until we discovered how weak this loot was compared to our Knoxville bamboo hook-up.

We were in need of a quick solution to support our tomatoes and save the harvest that is really just beginning. After brainstorming and considering many options such as cutting more bamboo or staking each with stronger material, we landed on metal fence poles with plastic clothesline tied between them. We liked the poles because it is something that can be used for years and years to come.


I say this with a bit of shame (because we would rather not support big box store), but we hit the Home Depot for our needed materials. (We shop local hardware stores, but sometimes they just can’t carry everything) Though it came at a personal price, we scored a great deal. The 6 1/2 foot poles we were eying that were normally $4.98 were marked down to $2.46. With a skip in our step and a smile on our faces, we checked-out with six fence poles and a package of 100 feet in clothesline rope (far more than needed for this job but cheaper).


When we got home we suited up, err rather we slipped into garden wear and were out to save tomatoes. First thing we did was clear out the fallen tomato plants. After cutting the vines where they had bent and broken, we picked the green tomatoes (we have plans for those unripe guys).

Then came the hard part. I wish I could say I was more help than I was, but it was Ryan who tackled this on his own. Turns out driving stakes is a mans job. No, it’s a gentleman’s job (my strong ‘gun showing’ woman’s side would be up for the challenge).

Anyhow, after spacing the fence poles out, Ryan drove the poles into the ground far enough to cover the supports. One at each end of the tomato line.


This is where my help came in. After tying the rope to the far end of the garden, I walked and unraveled while Ryan safely guided and got the tomatoes upright and secured. Once we reached the opposite stake, we cut the rope and tied it to the post.


The tomatoes were already looking much more perky. To reduce strain on the plants and create even more support we added an additional rope


With the worst off taken care of Ryan started driving in the next two stakes. This would completely square the tomatoes in and give support on all sides and through the middle. Hopefully, this is all these guys will need to keep their lengthy figures upright and going strong. Only time will tell.

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