I thought I’d jot down some quick notes about how I am supporting the plants that need it on my allotment this year. This isn’t a perfect nor exhaustive explanation but it shows what I’m doing and you can explore more online and in books.
Outdoor tomato stakes
Some tomato plants grow as bushes but most are called cordons and grow as tall vines that aren’t able to hold their own weight, instead being tied into supports. Last year I used canes and they were absolutely fine – as long as they’re strong enough to go into the ground and not snap or blow over under the weight of laden plants later in summer. This year however I’ve opted for 1.8m tall thick tree stakes which I have heavily embedded into the ground. I’ll tie my tomatoes up these as they grow.
Hazel climbing bean poles
I was given these hazel bean poles last year by my garden design clients Alice and Mike in Oval and they’re still going strong this year too. I’ve tied them into a sturdy support for two rows of direct sown beans, which I thinned out today. I’m doing the same as Monty Don’s advice on Gardener’s World the other week by including diagonal supports this year for extra stability. Generally French climbing beans are so vigorous they’ll find they way to twine up these themselves.
I’m growing lots of squash again this year and have a bed to grow many along the ground but I also wanted to give climbing squash a try so I’ve readied this wigwam. I sowed the seeds today into the soil beneath it. The sticks are extra thick to cope with the large amount of weight from the plants and the fruit (only the smaller fruited varieties are suitable really).
I’ve written a much more detailed blog post on staking dahlias for you to read but as a recap, I now use two lines of 1.2 – 1.5m tree stakes about every metre for each row of dahlias. This is just the first row and I need to order another 30 for the second row. I’ll create ‘pens’ of twine around these, increasing the height as the plants grow. Ultimately you just need enough to keep the stems vertical. For cut flowers, I would look to rig up a similar set up for any top heavy stems to avoid them snapping or flopping in wind and rain.