Several weeks ago my tomato plants finally started to take off after being transplanted from the plastic cups they’d been grown in to the garden. They had nearly doubled in size so I decided to secure the stalks to the stakes that were set in the ground beside them when planted.
First I removed the first couple rows of leaves along the bottom of each plant. These leaves are not necessary and snipping them off would allow the plants to absorb more nutrients. Second, all the suckers were removed. The plants were still pretty young, but surprisingly already suckers had started growing between the branches. Finally, I took a twist tie and secured the stalk to the stake, just below the first row of leaves.
Before we left on vacation, all the tomato plants were staked and given a good dose of fertilizer. On our return, the plants had at least doubled in size and were again in need of staking.
When I set to work on trimming the bottom branches and removing the suckers again, I noticed something. To my horror, the twist ties that I had used to tie the stalks of the plants to the stakes just a week ago had cut into the stalks, nearly cutting them in half. I had twisted the ties too tight and forgotten to allow room for growth. Every stalk had a huge cut in it where the twist tie was, threatening to sever the plant in half.
My first order of business was changed from trimming the plants to cutting lengths of material to use for staking. I remembered my father used to cut up old bed sheets into strips and use that to tie his tomatoes when he had a garden. I have lots of old sheets, so if it was good enough for my father, it would certainly be good enough for me.
Once the strips were cut and at least one was attached to each tomato plant I began loosening the plastic twist ties. Carefully I untwisted the ties, but didn’t try to remove them from the stalks. I just wanted them loose enough to allow the stalks to grow. A few ties fell right off, but most of them had become part of the stalk, the plant having literally grown around the tie.
What a mess! This could have been such a disaster had the twist ties cut the stalks in half. Thankfully I caught my mistake before it was too late.
Gardening is definitely a learning process but I’d hate for the lessons I learn have to cost me this years harvest. Now I know better than to use plastic twist ties to stake tomatoes and won’t make that mistake again, and for this I am —Simply Grateful.