THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Maria Rodale Headshot

How To Stake a Tomato in 5 Easy Steps

Posted: Updated:

I have admired and coveted the staking skills of my friend Pat Corpora for decades. He is Sicilian, so I think his blood is made of tomato sauce. I finally got him to come to my mess of a garden and do a tomato-staking intervention. Watch the video for the full details. But in case you need a step-by-step breakdown, here is what you need to do:

1. Plant your tomato seedling deeply (up to where the leaves start), and at the same time, drive a bamboo stake into the ground right next to it, 8 to 12 inches deep in the ground. If you've already got crazy tomato growth, just put the bamboo stake in place right next to the plant.

2. Tie the stem to the bamboo pole with twine. Tie it all the way to the top of the main vine.

3. Be brutal about pruning the stems and "suckers" so that you only have the strongest, best stems to grow the biggest, best tomatoes. Pat says you will get more and better tomatoes that way. I believe him. (Suckers are not a derogatory term, they are the little stems that grow out of the intersection of the main stem and other stems--see the video for more detail.)

4. Keep adding more ties as the tomatoes grow.

5. Add a crossbar of bamboo between two tomato stakes to strengthen the staking, and allow the tomatoes to spread out. There are two types of tomato plants, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate will only grow to a certain size and bear their tomatoes all at once. Indeterminate will keep on growing and keep on bearing. If you have indeterminate tomatoes, you can keep on adding taller and taller stakes, and keep on tying!

Bamboo and twine are both biodegradable and compostable products. So when you are done staking, you have delicious tomatoes and leave nothing behind except a full belly.

Want to see what Maria is up to? Sign up today to receive Maria's Farm Country Kitchen Second Helping newsletter delivered free to your inbox every Wednesday starting the week of July 11.

To celebrate, we're hosting a giveaway-a-day until the unveiling of her newsletter on July 11! Enter for a chance to win Maria's Contributor Kit, which includes a copy of The Compassionate Diet, Shameless and The Kind Diet. Email as described below before July 8, 2011.

1. Email rodalecontests@rodale.com with Maria's Farm Country Kitchen Garden Guru Sweepstakes in the subject line. Include your first and last name, complete home mailing address, daytime telephone number and date of birth.

Minimal Disclosure: No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Maria's Farm Country Kitchen Contributors begins at 7:30am EST on July 8, 2011 and ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 8, 2011. Must be 18 and legal resident of 50 United States or DC. For Official Rules: Rodale Inc., 400 South 10th St., Emmaus, PA 18098 is the operator of the sweepstakes.

From Our Partners