Tomatoes: Ripen in the sun or protect them w/shade? : LUSENET : garden project : One Thread

My tomato plants (Early Girl, Amish Brandywine, Golden Peach and Green Zebra) are getting so huge they're beginning to topple over, despite their (now-dwarfed) wire cages. I started clipping off vines that weren't growing flowers or fruit, in hopes of lightening the load. I noticed the next day that some of the now-exposed Early Girls were starting to ripen (finally!), and I thought that might have been caused by their exposure to the sun. (They had been completely shaded by leaves before).

Then I hear that those vines are necessary to protect the tomatoes from "scalding" in the sun (and we do have hot sun in the East Bay). I was going to continue my pruning, but now I'm unsure as to whether it's a good idea or not. Do any of you know?

Also: any tips for propping up leaning towers of tomato vines? The only thing I can think of is to build a cage out of wooden stakes and twine, but at this point I'd need 6 foot stakes to even make a difference to my humongous plants.

-- Heather Shaw (, July 27, 1999


I would say the best way to prop up the tomatoes would be to use stakes & string, at least propping up the cages. If you have them near a fence, you could tie them to that, too. Of course, I usually just wedge them into the fence, but I don't recommend that. As for shade, I would say you should look at the fruits that are ripening now. If they look okay, and especially if they taste okay, then shade wouldn't seem to be necessary.

-- Ashley L. (, July 27, 1999.

I recently caved and bought some metal trellises from Gardener's Supply Catalog. They weren't really cheap -- about $55 for five of them -- and I don't know if they'll work, but they are intended for tomatoes and other vegetables, which tend to be heavier than flowering vines and the like. I have a big yard, but my sunny space is limited, so I'm trying to maximize vegetable garden space (without giving up my flower garden) by growing some things upward instead of all over the ground. I plan to use these for tomatoes and squash. I'll let you know how they work. (I'll probably put flowers on at least one of them, too.)

-- Beth (, March 09, 2000.

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