If you’re going to grow tomatoes, you need support. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a pot on the patio or balcony, a backyard garden, or an indoor garden. Keeping tomato plants upright, the fruit off the ground (or floor), and the roots shaded from the sun is something that every gardener struggles with constantly.
In the first image below you see what happens every time a robust plant is grown using a round “tomato cage” from the local garden store or hardware. The tomato plant bends them right over. Anything you can bend so easily is no match for a fruit-laden tomato.
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In truth – these aren’t tomato cages. They are tall peony cages with an added ring. Neither are the common square or triangular folding tomato cages like you find at many stores in the gardening department. These are also way too easy for the heavy plant to bend right over.
Tomato supports have to be made from some stout stuff the hold up under the weight of a loaded plant. As a result, gardeners resort to some bizarre contraptions to keep the plants growing up instead of crawling across the ground.
Recently the Texas Tomato Cage was introduced. They are pricey, but built to keep abundant producing tomato plants under control. They’re also designed to fold flat which is great for winter storage. Available in medium and large sizes, but even the smaller one is way to wide for the average patio container people use for growing tomatoes, so they’re of little use to the balcony gardener, and totally out of the question for the indoor gardener. Unless you plan on growing in something really huge – like a half whiskey barrel or over-sized tub.
This gardener’s fix is not ideal – there is no way to get to the fruits in the middle without removing the rope supports. I suppose you could crawl under, but who want’s to do that? Isn’t there something that is more easily adapted to both the tomato plant’s notorious habits and our individual growing situation?
Actually, it looks like someone has devised the perfect solution to the tomato support dilemma. One that will adapt nicely to indoor and outdoor growing. It will also work for chile peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatillos and other top heavy plants that need support, and at the same time give you easy access for harvesting. That’s one thing obviously overlooking in some people’s homemade answer to tomato support. You have to be able to reach into the plant to get all the fruit it gives you.
Having fought with tomato plants myself for decades I find the concept here very impressive. All I’ve got to say is it’s about time someone fixed the problem in an affordable way. The concept would definitely work in a grow box, but figuring out how to install this new Kickstarter product called Miracle Stake on a hydroponic system is the only obstacle. Like everything else, someone with a will to make it work will find a way to make it happen.
So what’s it all about?
Meet Bob Hartford, the inventor of the Miracle Stake System.
Here’s a product that both indoor and outdoor gardeners everywhere will no doubt see the beauty in and want to get their hands on. It’s already patented. But Bob’s project needs to be funded by December 1st. Sure hope they get the funding needed to start manufacturing on schedule. I want my donation gift Miracle Stake to arrive in April on time for the season. It will be one less tomato in the race to see which one can topple to the ground fastest.
If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.
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