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Staked, Caged Or Trellised, Your Tomatoes Will Grow Tall And Strong All Summer!

Young tomato plants growing in soil with a metal cage around them for support.
You can support your tomato plants as they grow by using stakes, trellises or cages, as pictured here.

Tomato-planting time is here! In most parts of Vermont, especially the Champlain Valley and Connecticut River Valley, you can plant tomatoes in your gardens and raised beds as soon as this weekend. If you’re in the mountains, wait a bit longer in case of overnight frost.

These handy guidelines will get you off and running for early-season tomato care.

In terms of keeping your tomato plants healthy and thriving, it's all about support. Supporting the plant as it grows bigger and taller is beneficial to a bigger tomato crop and for avoiding leaf diseases and blight.

If you’ve planted dwarf or determinate tomato varieties, like Celebrity, you can simply put a stake next to it and tie the plant to it. As these varieties tend to stay small, you can even place a small cage around it.

The larger kinds of tomato plants, like Big Beefs, Brandywines and Sun Gold grow to monster-sized plants, however, and will need more support.

Trellis systems, from simple to elaborate can keep plants propped up or encircle the plant in a metal cage with stakes inside to tie the plant and keep it vertical.

Pruning your tomato plant throughout the season can also help keep it in check. Simply trim off the suckers.

Towards early July, trim those small shoots that grow from the main stem and this will help keep the plant from growing too out of hand. Also, keeping the plant vertical will help avoid blight on the leaves.

Q: I just got some new peach trees but I do not know how often I should water them. — Aston, in North Pomfret

The main tip for folks who buy and plant fruit-bearing trees is to keep the trees well-watered that first week and then continue to keep it well-watered for its first year.

Begin by using a five-gallon bucket of water and use the whole amount each day for a week. This works well if you've planted the tree in well-drained soil. Clay soil will hold more moisture so don’t water quite as much, perhaps every other day.

After the first week, keep up your watering for the tree's important first year. 

Here's a great rule of thumb: If the diameter of the trunk of the tree is about an inch, you want to use 10 gallons of water each time you water.

Another method that works for continuous watering is to use a gator, which is like a plastic bag with tiny holes in it that holds water and then slowly releases it into the ground to water the tree roots.

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All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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