Saturday, June 6, 2009

Staking Tomatoes and Bed Rehab

I'm not a fan of tomato cages. Yes, they are important, but they are so darn ugly! That's why in places where tomatoes are in full view, I stake them instead.

I finished up my staking chores for the most part, today. I found these thick metal rods that are covered in a ribbed green plastic that work perfectly. The green helps them blend in with their surroundings and the ribbing helps keep the ties from sliding down them. Here's a view of the corner bed with lots of the stakes in place. To the left of the pink peonies there is an area where eight tomatoes are caged, but I have things planted so you can't see them from the yard. Cool huh?

Here's another look at the same bed. Even up close, the stakes aren't too obnoxious and as the plants grow, they will become even less noticeable.

In the lower right corner is a circle staking thing. If you see it in the store, avoid it. It's flimsy and already rusting! It has attachments that make it taller and there is a net that is supposed to go with it. The whole thing is so homely and tippy when assembled, I'm not using it for anything more than the lower circle and the stake.

In the containers, there was a different staking problem to be dealt with. The poles in the containers were starting to cave in towards the center of the container from the weight of the plants. The eventual plan for these containers is to pound some stakes into the ground next to the container. For now, I rigged a temporary solution that is working really well. I drilled a large hole through the lid and hand section and tied the stake low and high thru it. It feels very sturdy now. This should work fine until I start having some serious weight from fruit.
This afternoon I started work on a bed I call the balcony bed. This is a tough area. It only get's afternoon sun, but not tons of it. The dog likes to walk on the brick edging and occassionally chase chipmunks under the hydragnea and it's a dry spot since the whole back two thirds of it is has a balcony overhanging it.
The basic weeding of this area was quick. It's an area where I typically toss some annuals and it hasn't seen a lot of soil improvement so there isn't a lot of rampant growth in it from weeds or anything else.
How much there is to do is more apparent from the other angle. This fence is getting replaced this summer. It's a half fence for privacy in the patio area and it's seen better days-abot 25 years ago by my estimate. The brick edging needs to be raised here. It has settled below the grass line over the years and because of this, maintaining it has become a tedious chore.
The bed itself needs soil amendments, and some evergreens and other perennials. It's in full view of the foyer thru a sliding door and right now there isn't much to see, well unless you are into worn grass and drying pots! I'm going for year round appeal here, with pooch friendly, not water nedy plantings. I'll be breaking out the plant encyclopedias for this project. LOL
Stay tuned! This one will take a bit of work and since my dumb pager keeps going off and the forecast is for more storms, it is unlikely to happen in the next 24 hours. : )


jezibels said...

They keep saying storms and rain, we went to a little zoo, anticipating it to come, it never did! Maybe tomorrow the rain barrels will get a drink!

islandgardener said...

The cages ARE ugly, but my garden is only for vegetables, so functional is fine. Plus, my tomatoes get quite large and I am skeptical staking would work. Invariably, I have to tie the cages to the fence to hold them up!

Stacy said...

You're kidding? I've been robbed. It's been raining off and on all day here. It's doing that annoying spurty thing. Rain just hard enough for you to pack it in and then stop 10 minutes later. Repeat again and again until you're cursing Tommy Skilling! I can't believe how cold it is again. Man, my watermelon is going to be peeved!

Stacy said...

Island Gardener functional cages are the way to go for optimal yields. These thick stakes work well, even for the eight foot plants, but cages would definitely get me a few more tomatoes!

Kim said...

I have cages and stakes, and my tomatoes grow over the top, down the sides and try to smother each other. I found even thicker stakes this year, about twice as thick as my thumb. They were pricey, but I DARE the tomatoes to pull them over! Good luck with yours.

Daphne said...

Oh I have the most ugly tomato cages. They are old and all rusting. My pail tomatoes have weird cobbled together supports. Not very aesthetic.

I left you an award on my blog. If you are into such things pass it along.

Tatyana said...

Hi Stacy! I use the green metal stakes, too! Sometimes, I need to use two of them for plant when they get big and heavy. I have several cages and add a stake later in the season if a cage alone isn't enough. I love your border on the upper pictures, it looks good with those trees as a background.

spotofgardening said...

The green metal stakes seem to be stronger and last a bit longer than the wire cages. More aesthetically pleasing, also.

Stacy said...

Kim, ,there is no way my tomatoes are pulling over these new stakes. I have them pounded into two feet of clay plus the topsoil! I have cages for my plants that are "off stage". I hate them. You have to constantly adjust the plant leaves, fruit is easy to miss and they're ugly!

Tatyana, I've had to add a stake to my cages in the past too. As someone above said, as soon as they come over the top, they tend to tumble. I'm so glad they came out with these thicker and longer green stakes. Much less to muck with.

Spotofgardening: I agree! Way easier to store too!


Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

I use stakes too instead of cages. Sometimes I put in 2 stakes and that seems to hold them OK. -Jackie