Keep tomato vines off the ground to protect ripening fruit from pests and diseases. Hoisting vines with cages or stakes also makes it much easier to pick fruit. With tomatoes, disease is one of the top problems you’ll encounter. Staking and supporting vines increases air flow around leaves, which can help reduce disease outbreaks. Be sure to choose a tomato support that suits the mature size of the plant. Many traditional tomato cages are too short to support heirloom tomatoes efficiently.
One way to help reduce outbreaks of disease in your heirloom tomato patch is to stake plants. Staking tomato plants with stakes or cages keep plants upright and improves air circulation around leaves, which is a key to reducing diseases. Drip irrigation helps keep leaves dry, which also reduces disease outbreaks.
Hot summer sun can burn tomatoes, causing a condition known as sunscald. It’s not much different from a sunburn on your skin. Sunscald results in a white patch that has very thin skin. The flesh beneath doesn’t taste good. The problem occurs when there aren’t enough leaves to shade fruit. Staking tomatoes or using cages helps leaves to dangle and cover fruit. Use care when pruning tomato leaves. Make sure you don’t remove all the leaves that shade ripening tomatoes.
In the garden, tomatillo plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and sprawl up to 3 feet across. For easiest harvest, support plants with a large tomato cage to keep branches off the ground. If branches touch soil, they’ll root.
In addition to its traditional use, magnolia garland can also be arranged in a variety of different shapes such as wreaths or topiary. To create a magnolia topiary for your yard, add the garland to a wire tomato cage, then keep it secure with zip ties.
You can easily spend a small fortune on specialized stakes for perennials. Hoop stakes are especially helpful for bushy plants, like Siberian iris, peony and balloonflower.
Easy Solution: Make your own hoop stakes by cutting circular tomato cages into hoops with a pair of bolt cutters. Place cuts so your hoop sits atop a set of legs to slip into soil.
Ornamental grasses are stars of the fall landscape. Their height, texture and movement add interest that extends well beyond fall into winter. Take note of grasses that catch your eye this fall. Look for examples at botanic gardens or nurseries with display gardens. If you’re unsure if a grass’s height fits in your landscape, use a tall stake or tomato cage to represent the grass in planting beds. That three-dimensional stand-in can help you visualize how a grass would look.
You can still grow a tasty crop of spring peas even if you don’t have a big yard. Look for container pea varieties, like this yummy sugar snap type, Little Crunch. With container peas, you may or may not need a trellis; it depends on how tall plants become. Little Crunch grows 24 to 30 inches tall, which makes it a perfect fit for a typical tomato cage. When growing peas in pots, don’t forget to water. Consistent soil moisture—especially once flowers start appearing—helps ensure a sweet harvest. If you battle rabbits in your yard, growing pots of peas can make it easier to beat the bunnies without having to fence a pea patch. Just know that rabbits (and deer) love peas, so you may need to protect pots on an open patio.