That’s what my tomato plant did. It fell and it was all my fault.
When my plants grew larger than expected I purchased a cage to contain them. When they grew beyond the cage, I sat, marveled and watched them grow. I would say to myself, “I really ought to find a way to contain that thing.” But, I never did.
Well, yesterday I had the bright idea of taking rope or cord to contain them. I got tired of being whacked in the head every time I walked on the deck. The problem with my bright idea is that I had not staked the cord to anything. I sort of created a giant tomato ponytail.
The ponytail got heavy and fell over. I was washing dishes and looked out the window only to find my tomato plant bent in half. I gasped, dropped the dish and ran outside. The weight of the ponytail was too much and the plant bent over using the tomato cage as the hinge.
What to Do?
Immediately I tried to upright the plant. The plant is about 7 feet tall, heavy and it was 95 degrees outside. There I was melting in the sun and holding a huge plant with no plan. I then tried to allow the plant to lean on me as I reached for the citronella poles. I started staking the tomato plant with my citronella candles until I was able to keep the plants upright.
While I was staking, and up righting, my husband went to the store to purchase real stakes. We eventually got everything staked with only a few casualties.
I’m keeping an eye out for wilted leaves, which is an indicator of whether or not the vine was too severely damaged. So far so good.
More Gardening Lessons Learned
- Next year, put the tomato plant in its own container with a small companion planting of basil
- Stake, stake, stake
- Never create a tomato plant ponytail
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Tomatoes do get heavy! But they’re very tough, as well, so probably fine. We’ve had ours topple plenty of times with no lasting effect unless the stalk actually crimped over or broke. My BIL actually built a wooden structure over a row of ours as a support experiment this year. It was a lot of work so we’ll see if it was worth it.
Have you considered trying upside down tomato growing? Here’s some links in case you’re not familiar with the concept. We haven’t tried it ourselves but I know people who have that rave about it.
I’ve seen the upside down tomato garden, but haven’t tried it. When we first moved here the squirrels used to eat my tomatoes so I never tried growing anything for a number of years. I was afraid the upside down garden would be squirrel food. However, since the squirrels haven’t been bothering my garden this year (except for twice that I was able to witness), I might give it a try.
It’s good to know I’m in good company with toppling tomato plants. I feel better. So far they seem to be doing fine, but I’m concerned about further growth. They’re near the top of the bamboo stakes that we used. I might have to look for something stronger.
Let me know how the wooden structure works for you because next year I’m venturing into the yard and will need a stronger support system.