In the post on determinate and indeterminate tomatoes it was recommended to stake indeterminate tomatoes. But even determinate tomatoes could benefit from being stakes and supported. The main reason for staking and supporting tomato plants is to keep the plants and fruit off the ground and lessen the chance of transmitting diseases to your plants. There is also the possibility that your plants could be damaged by wind, rain, pets, garden pests or the occasional stray ball from kids in your neighborhood.
This photo is of the urban heirloom farm on the UIC campus. If you read the post on the Hull-House urban heirloom farm you'll see that Ryan is using the tree trunks of an invasive tree to stake the tomato plants growing in the hoop house on the farm.
This photo is of tomatoes staked at the demonstration garden at the Garfield Park Conservatory.The tomato plants are tied to bamboo stakes, which are a favorite of mine to use in the garden to stake plants. Bamboo, like the invasive trees that Ryan, used are great to use because they are sustainable and last a long time in the garden. A couple of years ago I purchased a bundle of them for a few dollars at Home Depot and I still have them and bring them out every year to stake all kinds of plants in the garden. In the winter I pull them out of the ground and store them in the attic until I need them again. You can find bamboo stakes painted green which will naturally blend in with the foliage in your garden. It may look better than the natural colored bamboo stakes. My family says the garden looks like the Blair Which Project at the end of summer with all of the bamboo stakes used throughout the garden.
This post on the Chicago TomatoFest blog shows a more elaborate and decorative way of staking tomatoes in your garden. If I had the room for creating something like that I'd probably go that route too. Looks like a great weekend garden project for that handy person in your life to tackle.
One thing you want to take into consideration when staking tomato plants, and really any garden plants, is that you don't want the tie to be too tight. Leave the tie a little loose so the plant has some room to move in the wind or if accidentally tipped. If you don't have any garden tape like in the photo from the Garfield Park Conservatory use an old pair of stockings or cut an old t-shirt into strips.
How do you stake your tomato plants? Found a creative use for materials you salvaged or made something yourself? Share your tomato stake photos on the Chicago Gardeners Flickr pool or put a link to your garden blog in the comments.