How to Plant and Support Your Tomatoes

With Memorial Day right around the corner, it's time to get that garden planted!

Today, I want to share with you a few tricks I have learned over the years to achieve optimal results with my tomato plants.

 

But first, time for a little tomato education!

Tomatoes come in 2 types: Determinate and Indeterminate. Knowing what type you are growing will help you figure out how to best grow them.

DETERMINATE:

  • Also called "bush" type tomatoes.
  • These plant grow in a more compact form and generally only reach about 2-3 feet tall.
  • The fruit ripens around the same time, which makes these varieties ideal for canning or freezing sessions when you need a lot of tomatoes at once.
  • These plants are idea for container gardening.
  • Examples of Determinate tomatoes: "Roma", "Wisconsin 55", "Rutgers"

INDETERMINATE:

  • Also called "vining" type tomatoes.
  • These plants will grow tall, anywhere from 3-8 feet. Some cherry types may even grow 12-15 feet!
  • The fruit ripens gradually over the season, so you are not overwhelmed with tomatoes all at once.
  • These plants require strong support, in the form of tomato cages or trellis systems.
  • Examples of Indeterminate tomatoes: "Brandywine", "Early Detroit", "Pineapple", "Speckled Roman", all cherry types

Most tomato plants fall into the Indeterminate category, so you will most likely need to purchase some tomato cages or trellising. I would still offer support to Determinate plants, but it's not totally necessary. 

In the videos below, I will show you 2 methods I have used successfully for growing tomatoes. Perhaps they will work for you as well!

USING TOMATO CAGES

I use this method for all my non-cherry type tomatoes (Determinate and Indeterminate).

I found I can use small tomato cages for the Determinate tomatoes, but need to use the largest cages I can get my hands on for everything else!

The metal rebar stakes are what makes it work. Before I used them, my tomatoes cages would collapse under the weight of the plant in the middle of August, leading to lots of ruined/rotted fruit.

 

USING A TRELLIS SYSTEM

Some Indeterminate tomatoes, especially cherry types, grow like a vine and benefit from being grown on a trellis, instead of a tomato cage.

We call this our "Cattle Panel Trellising System". It works so well, I want to spread the word! The panels come in 16 x4 foot sections or 8x4 foot sections.

They also work great for growing cucumbers, pole beans, peas... any plant that likes to climb. The panels are very sturdy, easy to stack and store, and should last you a lifetime.

*Bonus - I just saw that TSC (Tractor Supply Company) has cattle panel on sale this week!

So there you have it! I've shown you two methods that work on our farm.

How do you support and grow your tomatoes? I would love to hear from you!

If you are getting ready to plant your garden this weekend and need tomatoes, be sure to check out our fun selection of Heirloom tomato plants!

-Lori