Tomato Cages: A Must in Growing Tomatoes

Let me tell you a secret, a vegetable garden does not require a lot of space even if you are living in the city, you got a small apartment, or you live in the suburbs. It does not take a lot of space nor actually a lot of effort to grow your healthy vegetables.

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Now, before we get into all of that, if at any point, you’re confused or you need some clarification, please contact us. We’re here. Talk to us. In this article, we’ll specifically talk about tomatoes, from how to grow your own, the types, and updated methodologies you can use.

 

Your Tomato Garden

Nothing beats fresh tomatoes, especially when they’re within easy reach; cooking your own fresh salsa, using your own freshly grown tomatoes is such a delight and an experience only a few have. Tomatoes are a favorite among home growers, you can choose from a wide range of tomatoes.

 

 

Be sure to consider the climate in your area; the season when you intend to work on your home garden. Tomato, a warm-season plant, is planted in summer or spring and doesn’t thrive in frosty season. It needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, for it to grow healthy. The temperature at night must be 55 degrees F up to 75 degrees F.

Tomato Cages: A Must in Growing Tomatoes

Tomato plants have vine-like branches and cannot stand straight by themselves. Plus the many fruits that ripen simultaneously are heavy and may break the plant. Tomato cages are a must-buy as they will support the weight of the fruits.  An open cage provides enough space for the plant to develop in a healthy manner. Put a distance of two feet between plants. These tomato cages help the plants grow upward and prevent the plant vine from crawling on the ground, and be prey to harmful insects and disease.

 

It’s best to build your tomato cages at an early stage of your plant’s growth. As soon as the seedlings are set, put cages around the young tomato plants; be sure not to damage roots that are just developing. The cage will help roots to grow continuously. Don’t wait till the plant matures because, at this late stage, if you’re not careful, putting the cage may seriously damage the roots and vines.

How to Properly Set Up Tomato Cages

Tomato cages are easy to find, as most garden supply stores have them. They’re relatively affordable but of course if you want sturdier ones those will be more expensive. Now, before we proceed, there are essentially two types of tomatoes plants:

  • Determinate plants that are 3 to 5 feet high. A 3-foot tall tomato cage, 14 to 18 inches in diameter, with a cone shape, is suitable.
  • Indeterminate plants need a sturdier, higher cage, 4 to 6 feet high, with a wider diameter is ideal; otherwise, the plants will topple over the cage.

 

Your Complete Guide:

  1. Put the plant in the middle of the cage.
  2. Press the cage firmly and deeply into the soil.
  3. Press the soil so it’s compact around the base.
  4. Put the stakes at even spaces, around the plant while the soil is wet.
  5. Take care of the plant as it grows and fills the cage, by guiding its growing branches and give breathing space for the developing tomato fruits.

 

You can also build your tomato cages. Simply buy a sheet of remesh, i.e. wired concrete support from a hardware store, 3 strong stakes: 1 for the plant’s stalk and 2 to support the cage. Use a garden wire to weave the remesh into a cylinder form, then attach the stakes, and with soft yarn, tie the growing vines to the stakes

Tomatoes: Determinate vs Indeterminate

.We mentioned the phrase “determinate tomatoes” earlier. Tomato plants have two basic categories: determinate and indeterminate. When you get your seed packet from the nursery, you’ll see the term “determinate” or “indeterminate’ – this description refers to how the tomato plant grows, which is basically a vine, but determinate tomatoes are referred to as bush cultivars due to their bushy shapes and because they don’t grow longer through the season.

 

They grow quicker, reaching a particular height of 2 to 4 feet, then flower buds bloom simultaneously. at the branch tips. The leaves and stems stop growing. The plant’s energy gears toward the ripening of fruits, all at the same time. After this, the determinate tomato plant stops growing.

 

Determinate tomatoes mature quickly and fruits ripen within two weeks. They mature earlier than indeterminate tomatoes. Due to gardens in cities and in suburbs having limited space for planting; growers usually prefer determinate tomatoes due to their compact size.

 

Read the seedling packet, to check the length of days for determinate tomatoes to mature.

Indeterminate tomato plants keep growing their vines, reaching 5 to 10 feet in height, and produce fruit throughout the season.

 

Your choice of determinate or indeterminate tomatoes will therefore guide you at your gardening tasks:

  • Pruning: You only need to do initial pruning on determinate tomatoes, don’t prune continuously. Prune the plant’s lower part to prevent leaves from growing across the soil to ward off disease Their growing tips end in flower clusters, then bear fruit – this is its self-pruning trait

 

  • On removing suckers: you don’t need to remove the suckers of determinate tomatoes so that the plant will yield more fruit. For indeterminate tomatoes, remove suckers regularly to provide air circulation, to prevent the leaves from crawling on the soil, to avoid the spread of plant disease

 

Celebrity Tomato

The Celebrity tomato is known for its great flavor. Many describe its flavor as meaty, not too watery making it ideal for cooking, You can eat Celebrity tomatoes raw, sliced, and put them in sandwiches and salads; or use Celebrity tomatoes to prepare salsas and thick flavorful sauces for pasta and noodles. You can also cook tomato soups. Add Celebrity tomatoes as tomato puree to your dishes; serve them as tomato fritters with a tangy taste. Or as a garnish for tasty dishes

 

The Celebrity Tomato is a hybrid plant, first produced by Colen Wyatt, a home gardener and vegetable breeder in the late 1900s. The Celebrity tomato won the All America Award, in 1984. The Celebrity tomato is a hybrid tomato, The fruit is round and uniform in size weighs 7 to 10 ounces.

 

  • The Celebrity tomato is highly resistant to most tomato diseases due to its hybrid nature. It is also resistant to splitting that happens when tomato fruits have too much sugar and water movement. It is easy to grow, as determinate vines; as a bush plant, not more than 2 feet tall, loaded with fruit clusters everywhere.

 

The Celebrity tomato can grow anywhere, in mild, wet, dry, or humid climates. Unlike other tomatoes, it can even survive harsh weather and last through strong rain. The celebrity tomato is also classified as semi-determinate. This means the plant has both bush features, i.e. determinate and vine features, indeterminate.

 

The plant grows to a maximum height of 2 feet. It has a yield of 30 to 40 tomatoes per bush. Like determinate varieties, the celebrity tomato plants grow fast and produce early. The plant reaches maturity in 70 to 76 days but many growers say the maturity period is about 90 to 100 days, based on their planting experience. It is a mid-season, not an early-season plant.

 

Semi-determinate plant:

The plant stops its growth when it reaches a certain height: this is the trait of a determinate cultivar, It stops growth and the plant now uses its energy to yield fruit, converting the pollinated flowers as fruits. However, some Celebrity tomato plants continue to grow up to 10 feet and bear fruit, depending on the soil and climate.

 

The plants can continue to yield tomatoes until the coming of the first frost, like an indeterminate, vine variety. It is no longer just a warm-season plant. This flexible trait classifies the Celebrity tomato as a semi-determinate plant

 

Pruning, trimming, grooming are not necessary procedures with the celebrity tomato.

 

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are small, about 1 to 2 inches, the size of your thumb tip onto golf-ball size. Cherry tomatoes are round or oblong. They come in different colors, red, orange, yellow, pink, chocolate, near black, or even with tiger stripes: so you can toss them in salads to liven up your salad or put them as topping for your pizza. You can also cook them as preserves or make them into salsa. Cherry tomatoes taste like ordinary tomatoes, in a concentrated form due to their small size.

 

  • Cherry tomatoes are said to have originated from the wild tomato species, grown in South American centuries ago. It developed into a mix between the wild tomato and the garden tomato.

 

You can get seeds from tomatoes, or buy cherry tomato seeds at the local nursery or garden supplies store, There are also online sources; seed catalogs come in January, as well as in spring, They say it’s the easiest plant to grow, and one plant can bear a steady fruit flow of cherry tomatoes throughout the season.

 

But don’t underestimate Cherry tomato plants, because they grow large and the branches become heavy with fruits, despite the size of cherry tomatoes. So you need to support the plants with sturdy cages, support them with stakes. The plants can also grow well in containers with a diameter of 5-6 inches or in balconies.

 

You can also consider the dwarf varieties or patio varieties; these are trimmed down in size.

 

Planting:

  • Begin planting at the right time. This would be 6 weeks before the arrival of spring frost; Put a space of 12 to 16 inches between cherry tomato plants that are supported on stakes. If you plant them in your garden, set the plants apart by 2 or 4 feet. While the Cherry tomato fruits are small, the tomato plants can grow big.

 

  • Cherry tomatoes are small fruits so it only takes 55 to 65 days for the plants to bear fruit; you can even harvest some cherry tomatoes in 45 days. Still, there are some that mature in 80 days.

 

  • Cherry tomatoes have both determinate and indeterminate varieties. Home gardeners usually choose the determinate varieties, with their compact size, to plant in their limited garden space.


 

Tomato Companion Plants

Companion planting is simply the process of planting different plants together, to increase the intake of nutrients from the soil or from the air, to control pests, improve pollination, and improve the quality and health of your tomato crops.

 

Companion planting is not the random crowding of plants. It’s about plant interaction; putting together plants that will benefit each other, in different ways, creates a stable ecosystem. Studies on companion planting are ongoing, as gardeners share their experiences and experiments on pairing plants.

 

Benefits:

Plant companions can gather nutrients from the soil or from the air and make them available to their neighbor tomato plants. Examples are beans and peas, which get nitrogen from the air and put nitrogen in the soil, aided by micro-organisms on plant roots.

 

Tomato harvest improvement:

  • Planting carrots near tomatoes loosens the soil and helps improve the harvest.
  • Lettuce planted with tomato plants gives a kind of living mulch and helps maintain moist and cool soil.
  • Growing large flowers, such as snapdragons or lupines, the bean family, attracts bumblebees to your tomato garden. Bumblebees help pollinate tomatoes through buzz pollination— the bees’ flight causes tomato flowers to vibrate, shaking off pollen. Tomatoes that are buzz pollinated can bear fruit, three times the yield of self-pollinated tomatoes

 

Improving flavor: Basil, French marigold, and lettuce improve the flavor of tomato fruits. They do not negatively affect tomato yields. It is said that growing tomatoes alongside basil produce more fruit than tomatoes that grow alone.

 

Controlling pests:

  • Basil repels flies and mosquitoes; prevents thrips from sucking onto tomato plants.
  • The strong smell of onions distracts harmful insects.
  • Marigolds emit a strong scent that repels pests. Roots of the French Marigolds emit a chemical that serves as a pesticide, kills harmful nematodes i.e. the parasitic slender worms that develop on tomato roots. French marigold is a tomato companion plant that also prevents whiteflies from sucking on tomato leaves and fruits

 

Attracting beneficial insects:

  • Companion plants attract predatory insects that control pests, for instance, Amaranth attracts insects that repel pests. Open flowers of herbs and vegetables such as parsley, fennel, and carrots attract predatory insects such as tachinids and parasitic wasps, that kill pests
  • Companion plants, like basil, attract beneficial insects such as bees, acting as pollinators to your tomato crops.

In Conclusion

Home gardens have always been a bit niche, but with everything that’s happening, there’s been a recent surge in the number of inquiries i.e. people who want to grow their vegetables safely. The great thing about growing your own, it’s not that hard. It’s as simple as plant the seed, water the seed, and let the sun do its job – it’s that simple – if you’ve always wanted to grow tomatoes, then this article just shows you how and all the different types you can have.

As always, we’re here. If you got confused, what to buy or need clarification on, please contact us. Talk to us. We’d love to have a chat with you.

Buy yourself some tomato cages