Tomatoes come in many varieties---towering 6-foot-tall plants and short bushier ones, giant Beefsteak fruit and dainty cherry tomatoes. Regardless of size, all tomatoes are vining plants and require staking to properly support the plump, juicy tomatoes. Supporting tomatoes keeps them off the ground where they are prone to insect attacks or rotting from the contact with moist earth. It also prevents the stems and vines from breaking under the weight of the fruit and allows air to circulate between the vines, which helps prevent disease.
Pound a 5-foot stake into the ground with a mallet behind the seedling at the time of planting. Staking later may damage the roots of the tomato plant. Pound the stake in 5 to 8 inches.
Trim of the branches and vines that grow along the main stem on the side where the stake is located. Cut them off where they emerge from the plant using sharp gardening shears.
Tie the main stem to the stake every 8 inches, using flexible plant ties, cloth strips or pantyhose. Continue adjust the ties and adding new ones as the plant grows.
Alternately, place a stake on three sides of the seedling, 6 inches away from it. Tie a side stem to each of the side stakes and the main stem to the rear stake.
Cut concrete reinforcement wire mesh, available at home improvement and hardware stores, to a 5-foot length using wire snips. Use 10 gauge wire with 6 inch openings in its grid work.
Roll the wire mesh into a tube. Attach the ends together by twisting 6-inch lengths of heavy gauge wire around them to secure.
Snip off the bottom row of horizontal wires from the mesh, leaving behind the vertical wires to work like stakes. Snip of the wires between each vertical row of wires, with cutting into the vertical wires.
Place the cage over the young seedling soon after planting. Push the vertical wire stakes firmly into the ground.
Pull the branches through the mesh as the plats grow but before fruit sets. Once the fruit grows it may reach sizes too large to fit through the mesh openings.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.