Support your vegetable plants to help avoid diseases, make fruit easier to harvest, keep fruit clean, and help you monitor plants for potential problems. Support comes in several forms:
- Stakes are simple and come in wood, bamboo, plastic, or other materials. Drive them into the ground when planting, considering the ultimate size of the plant. Tie the main stem to the stake using soft ties; panty hose cut into strips make soft, inexpensive ties. Use 8-foot stakes for indeterminate tomatoes.
- Cages require less tying than stakes. Install at planting, considering ultimate plant size. Large tomato cages work for many smaller varieties, such as determinate tomatoes. Medium cages work for eggplants and peppers and Patio tomatoes. For indeterminate tomatoes, make a sturdy circular cage using concrete reinforcement wire. Secure the cage in place with stakes.
- Trellises combine the techniques of stakes and cages. A wire trellis, secured to posts at least 5 feet tall, works especially well for tall tomatoes; train the tomato stems to wind through the trellis, tying when needed. A lean-to or A-frame trellis is best for cucumbers and melons, to support the vines and keep the fruit off the ground.
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Tomato cages work best for tomato varieties that will grow less than 6 feet tall.
Make a cage from concrete reinforcement wire for tomatoes that will get taller than 6 feet. It's sturdier when the plant cascades over the top.
Single stakes work fine for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Tie the plants to the stake as they grow.
Here’s a guide for what veggies need support and the best methods for each.
Vegetable plants that require support:
Tomatoes (stakes, cage, or trellis)
Sweet Peas, Pole beans (trellis)
Better with support in wind and rain:
Eggplant (stakes, cage, or trellis)
Peppers (stakes, small cage)
Others that will grow better with support:
Support is optional; each heavy fruit needs a stocking sling for support, too:
Butternut, Acorn, Buttercup squash (trellis)