July 24, 2015
Staking My Tomato and Cucumber Plants
If you’ve ever grown a vining plant, you know how important it is to provide strong structures to which the vines can cling and climb. Using teepees in the vegetable garden is an easy way to support these plants, and to add eye-catching texture to the garden bed.
At my farm, I like to use bamboo stakes around my tomato and cucumber plants. Bamboo is attractive, easy to find, and can be reused each year. This week, my gardener, Wilmer, staked the fast growing vegetable crops, so they’re ready for the season’s harvest. Here are photos of the process - enjoy.
1 I like to use bamboo canes for both my tomato and cucumber crops. They're easy to buy in bulk, and can be found in a variety of sizes. They should be seven to eight foot tall stakes that are at least an inch in diameter each.
2 Don't use any chemically treated wood or other material for staking climbers, as the chemicals would likely run off and go into the soil.
3 Many of you have asked how these tomato plants are watered through the black plastic - there are holes where each plant is located, so each plant can get all the water it needs.
4 For all the teepee structures, we used lashing twine to tie the bamboo canes together. This twine is strong, and doesn't easily slip.
5 Each of these tomato plants has three uprights creating the teepee support, and one shorter stake for the center.
6 The cucumber plants were staked using four uprights each to make the teepee, and one stake in the center. Wilmer embedded each stake about three to four inches deep, and angled slightly toward the middle of the plant.
7 The bamboo stakes went into the soil pretty easily - the important thing was to place them deep enough, so they remain secure for the duration of the season.
8 Wilmer didn't need to use any tools to put the bamboo stakes into the ground - just a little elbow grease!
9 The outer stakes were placed at the corners of the plant, but still pretty close together.
10 Once the bamboo canes were secured in the soil, Wilmer gathered them at the top, and tied the twine around all the stakes.
11 Wilmer tied them a few inches down from the top.
12 He made sure the twine was taut enough so that the bamboo created a teepee like support over of the plant.
13 Here is how the twine was tied around the top of the bamboo supports.
14 Next, Wilmer tied one end of a long piece of twine around one of the bottom bamboo supports, about a foot off the ground.
15 He made sure the twine was tight, so it didn't slip.
16 To be certain, Wilmer tied the twine around the stake a couple of times, so it was secured.
17 Wilmer ran the twine across each stake creating horizontal supports for the climbing vines.
18 He did this as far up as possible, especially for the tomato plants which can grow quite tall.
19 Since these cucumber plant vines have begun to grow long, Wilmer gently tied them to the bamboo, to give them a bit of direction.
20 The loop around the plant stem should be just tight enough to keep the vine secure, but not break it.
21 Wilmer cut off the ends of the twine to keep it tidy.
22 This is what the cucumber plant looked like once it was completely supported within the bamboo teepee.
23 Staking is the best way to ensure the plants get the support they need for the many vegetables they will produce this season.
24 My plants are already beginning to sprout cucumbers!
25 All together, the teepees provide a nice visual effect.
26 The plants will be checked regularly, and any new growth over 18-inches tall will be secured to the teepee. Looks great, Wilmer!