Caging the Beast

It's a good thing that once everything is well-established in a vegetable garden, there's not much more to do besides sit back and enjoy the harvests. However, I still had one major task to tackle today, thanks to my own hardheadedness.

Besides the squirrel thievery, the only problem I had with our first crop of tomatoes three years ago was the cages. They were ugly. So when I put the sweet new seedlings in the ground six weeks ago, I refused to add depressing steel-gray cones to the mix, figuring that if the cages were never there, the plants would grow strongly and be self-supporting.

Boy, am I dumb!

The plants were a tangled, sprawling mess. Many of the branches had grown completely perpendicular to the stem and were 4 feet long. I was loath to cut off the branches with blossoms, since I know how yummy those blossoms will be in a few short weeks. However, many of them broke off on their own as I was coaxing them into the cages. They were reluctant, to say the least. But I managed to get 4 out of 7 (the cherry tomatoes, which were much more unwieldy and disorganized) into cages. Then I ran out of cages. But the others (larger variety) will be all right, I think. I hope.

As an aside, some of the leaves on my squash plants, which are next to the tomatoes, have been turning a powdery yellow and wilting. Although Rob has pointed out that tomatoes are technically poisonous (this helpful website can elaborate) I can't find any warnings online about companion planting with these two. Has anyone else had a similar experience?


Laura said...

I usually just stake the tomatoes, rather than use cages. They turn out OK...maybe the cage is better but I don't like the look of them either.

THere are "prettier" bamboo cages out there also.

Laura N.

Melani said...

I pretty much just plant butternut squash and tomatoes in my summer garden. They don't seem to have a problem with each other, except for getting to be a large tangled mess at times.

erin said...

I have had the same problem with my squash plants this year. Most of the fruit has shriveled and dried up after a couple of days. I only have one fruit right now that looks like it will make it. The leaves have white powdery looking spots on them. Everything else in the garden is fine.

MissoulaChick said...

I always end up with zucchini intertwined in my tomatoes, and have never had an issue. Sounds to me like your plants have a fungus or something, which shouldn't have anything to do with the tomatoes.

Joshua McNichols said...

Around here, powdery mildew attacks anything that's stressed. For example, peas at the end of their growing season when it gets too hot, lilacs when their soil hasn't been amended in years, zucchini when you don't give it enough water. It's ever present and attacks only when the plant is weakened.