By Kira Hamman
A hotly debated topic among tomato gardeners is how to keep those precious spheres off the ground.
Letting plants sprawl along the earth makes them more susceptible to pests and disease, not to mention that it makes harvesting the tomatoes harder.
But while everyone seems to agree that keeping tomato plants upright is the way to go, exactly how to do that is hardly unanimous.
Some people are cagers. They swear by those metal ice cream cone-shaped contraptions that you plunk over the seedlings while they’re small, letting the plants grow up and through so that they’re supported. Cages are easy to use and low-maintenance, but not what you might call visually pleasing.
Other people are stakers. If it was good enough for their great-grandparents, it’s good enough for them. And, indeed, stakes are good enough, especially if you are vigilant about tying the plants onto them properly (loosely, but not too loosely, and frequently enough that the branches don’t start to head south). These days stakes even come in bright colors and twisty shapes. This is not your father’s tomato stake.
And then there are the trellisers. Their tomatoes might be mistaken for espaliered fruit trees, spread artistically along some perforated wall-type structure. Trellising requires frequent attention, a certain understanding of the growth habit of the plant, and, of course, a trellis. Trellis people spend most of the summer in their gardens and have a lot to show for it.
So — which one are you?