Appalachia Gardening

The Best Tomato Stakes

Do you stake your tomatoes? Or use cages? In the past we’ve tried both routes.

Our garden area at home is so small that tomato cages take up way too much room. We’ve used wooden stakes-that typically rot and break by the end of the season-or if you’re lucky you might get 2 seasons out of them-still they eventually decay beyond use. And as the plants grow taller and taller you either need to re-tie the plant to the stake-or add another stake.

Last year, Kenneth Roper, gave me a few of his newly invented reusable tomato stakes to try. He explained how they worked to me more than once-but it wasn’t until I used them in my garden that I seen the genius behind his design.

There are 2 pieces to Kenneth’s hand dandy tomato stakes-a piece of regular rebar-and the 2nd piece is hand machined by Kenneth. The rebar slides through a hole in the 2nd piece. The 2nd piece has a threaded knob-which is used to tighten it at any height along the rebar.

Tie your tomato plant to the extended threaded rod-then as the plant grows you simply unscrew the 2nd piece and slide it up higher on the rebar.

You can place one piece of rebar in the middle of several plants and tie them all to it-by using more than one threaded piece on the same rebar.

Kenneth’s Tomato Stakes work fantastic-but one of my favorite things about them-is I can use them over and over and over. At the end of the growing season-we just pull up the rebar-remove the threaded piece-and store both till next summer.

If you’d like to buy one of Kenneth’s Tomato Stakes-you can email him at [email protected]




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  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

    How cool is that!
    I’d love to see them in action.

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    June 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    We’ve been using the same green metal fence posts for probably 20 years. I tie them up with old panty hose cut calamari-style.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’d love to find a new way to stake tomotoes. I’d like to see the finished product. I can’t get a visual of what the tomato plant looks like using this method. Could you post another pic for us?

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Isn’t it great when someone comes up with a new and useful idea? We plant our tomatoes in groups of three plants, drive a T-post in the center, then put cages made of concrete reinforcing wire around the plants and tie the cages to the posts. It’s worked well for us. Now – we need more rain.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Well, Ain’t them the cat’s pajamas!…..
    Wish you had a picture showing the complete deal of the tomato strung up to the threaded rod. I think I can sorta figure out how it works in my mind…but pictures tell a thousand mind is picture oriented!..ha
    Great Idea Ken…I knew when I saw them they were made by the nutcracker person! ha
    We used to stick our tomatoes…and tie them up with old teeshirt strips or old nylon hose…start at the foot and cut crosswise to make circles then cut and loop lap around the stems to soften the pull on the plant stems…that was when we grew mostly indeterminate tomatoes that climbed to the sky!…We had to use cane poles and a ladder the year we grew some tree tomatoes for fun..they did grow tall but was lots of fun to show off…
    We don’t grow that many tomatos anymore and grow mostly determinate tomatoes…Checked my freezer yesterday and only have two boxes of spaghetti sauce left! I used to can I freeze it in sizes for the two of us…If I want to I add meat when I make spaghetti or use the sauce for chicken…or other Italian dishes..
    Now days we just cage our tomatoes…We picked a few ripe ones this week…and of course had to pick a green one or two for fried green tomatoes…good lunch…yummm!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Hey Tipper, do you have a picture of the tomatoes on this stake. I’m having a hard time picturing how it all works. I’m one of those visual persons.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Tipper–I bought 20 of Ken’s ingenious devices (although he fashioned mine for use on some eight-foot metal stakes I already had, as opposed to rebar. Otherwise though, everything is the same. Let me tell you, the stakes are a fine example of mountain genius. I’ve got maters running up the stakes high as my head already, and I’m getting two-for-one use by putting the stake in between two plants.
    I might also add that we ate our first tomatoes of the year, Cherokee Purples, day before yesterday. There will be a spell here when they don’t ripen fast enough to keep up with our eating propensities, but then they will threaten to overwhelm us (of course the fact that I planted 60 here, and probably that many more in Bryson City), might be a factor. We freeze lots of them to use in soups, stews, and chili, and we also have a dehydrator and dry a bunch more.
    I’ll also offer a bit of fond reminiscence and another example of mountain ingenuity connected with staking tomatoes. Most of the tomatoes in Bryson City are tied to locust stakes which are somewhere around 50 years old. As the original long stakes rotted bit by bit where they went in the ground, Daddy would eventually take two of them, put a few inches of them together, and insert two sturdy bolts to join the pieces. That made a nice lengthy stake along with providing a handy way of driving them in the ground (just pound on the top end of the lower section where they joined) as opposed to having to climb a step ladder to do the chore. Maybe Don, when he gets back from across the pond(actually, he should have gotten back yesterday), can send you a photo. Daddy never wasted anything, and that included shortened stakes. Like Ken, he had a fine mind for figuring out practical things.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    June 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Tipper I have been using pipe that came from the chain link fence that was around our property when we bought it in 1979, since then the state bought part of our yard for right of way to replace a bridge by our house. Getting back to the pipe I just cut it into 6 ft. pieces and drive in the ground with steel post driver, have been using them for 10-15 years and still going strong. I like them because it takes something strong to go between or thru the rocks sometimes they are not even strong enough for that, seems like we live on top of a rock pile. I like the looks of Kenneth’s idea but might get expensive because I have been known to put out 130 tomato plants. Thanks Bill

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I’ve seen these work, they are great!
    Never thought about putting more than one slider on each rebar, that’s even better. You could plant the tomatoes in a circle around the one rebar.
    A friend of mine bought four of the new fangled stakes from Ken and put them in a row with two rebars on each end and two spaced down the row. He thinks he can do the whole row with the four rebar stakes. I’ll let you know how it works.
    Ken is the one who made that wonderful walnut cracker you have, isn’t he?
    He must be like the Deer Hunter and able to build anything he sets his mind to!! Those are very special men!

  • Reply
    kritter keeper
    June 30, 2011 at 8:35 am

    this looks excellent and i just showed my husband. do you have any pics that are farther back to see the plant and the stake together? thanks tipper for sharing! kritter keeper from farm tails

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 8:19 am

    what a great idea. bob uses the strong part of the palmetto frond and has to keep adding string as it grows.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2011 at 7:02 am

    That’s a cool idea!

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