Straighten Up: Cage, Stake or Trellis Veggies This Week

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Difficulty: Beginner

Garden tips by region straighten-up

Edibles that grow tall often bend, break or lean as vegetables begin to mature. Using tomato cages, wood or metal stakes and chicken wire is a matter of preference. The important thing is, plants need to stay off the ground where diseases and insects reduce production or destroy plants.

Tomatoes and peppers are often staked and caged for support. Cukes and pole beans do best when tied to a trellis, tripod or a short fence, as they like to climb and twine. Harvest is greater as more flowers are produced on vines that grow upward. Have your supports set up before plants go in the ground.

Tomatoes:

  1. Pound a 48” stake firmly into the ground, beside your young tomato plant.
  2. Tie tomato stalk loosely to the stake as soon as flowers appear. Stakes will bear the weight of plants as they grow and increase in weight, preventing branches from tipping and breaking.
  3. Push a 48” tomato cage into the soil around staked tomatoes. 

Peppers:

  1. Use 24-36” high cages for peppers. Most don’t need staking.
  2. Keep garden twine or twist ties handy to secure long plant stems as necessary.

Cucumbers and Pole Beans: Teepee or Tripod

  1. To create a teepee or tripod, three 6’ long stakes or bamboo poles can be gathered at their tops and lashed with heavy cord. 
  2. Push the 3 unbound legs firmly into the soil and pound the top with a hammer to drive legs deeper into the soil. 
  3. Plant cucumbers or beans around the base of each leg.

Trellis or Fence:

  1. A short fence row can be built quickly with two 4’ metal stakes driven into the soil 4’ apart. 
  2. Stretch chicken wire or mesh fencing between the stakes and secure each end around the stakes by bending with pliers.
  3. Plant cucumbers or beans along either side of the mesh or chicken wire.

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