10 An Emergency. Of the Tomato Variety.

Last week I posed this question on Facebook "Anyone here grow tomatoes? My plants get so heavy that they tip over (they are even in tomato cages). Any tips to prevent this?" 

You are probably wondering what the heck that is up there. An embarrassment is what it is. Meet my tomato plants. On the left are two cherry tomato plants that have all grown into one tomato cage, which you totally can't see because of all the leaves, but you can see the brick I used to try and get it to stay in place. On the right are two beefsteak tomato plants, you can see the extreme angle the cage is at (it is blue). 

The plants haven't always been like this, it just kind of happened out of nowhere while we were away camping. I picked some fruit from each plant and attempted to ripen them on the window sill. I figured I would cut my losses and harvest them all if this test work. It worked well for the cherry tomatoes but it is not working for the larger tomatoes.

And so I reached out to my Facebook community hoping someone would have run into this problem before and know how to solve it. I WAS NOT ALONE!! It seems that lots of others also have embarrassments like this in their garden. Not anymore for this girl.

Suggested Fixes to a Tomato Emergency

Get rid of the bulk! Trim any damaged or yellow branches. Thin out the leaves, focusing on those that do not have any flowers or tomatoes on the same branch. 

Get rid of all flowers. The plant will give its energy to the flowers and the resulting new fruit instead of ripening the existing fruit. Removing the flowers will result in less fruit being produced but it will also prevent the fruit that has grown from rotting before it has a chance to ripen. 

Stake those beefsteaks. Big tomatoes are heavy and as a result they pull the branches and stems down. Especially when they are growing well over the top of the cages. Adding reinforcement through wooden stakes will help to secure the tomato plants and prevent them from tipping over. Helpful tip: Tip your plants to the stake with cut up old t-shirts. 

Prevention Prevention Prevention. There are lots of ways to prevent your plants from looking like mine. Stake your plants when they are still small, thin out plants if multiple grow in the same area. This way you only get one per cage. You could try moving them too if more than one grow in the same spot. 

Ever run into a tomato emergency? Did any of the suggested fixes work for you?

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  1. These are great ideas. I too have cherry tomato plant that's turned into a monster. But it still produces, so I never thought to tame it. I bet if I thin it a bit, it might do better over all.

  2. I thought the same thing about mine Connie. I figured since it was giving me a load of fruit it didn't matter. Maybe this will result in even more awesome tomatoes!

    Let me know how yours turns out.

  3. Great ideas. I've had to do the same a few years now. They still get out of control!

  4. I love the t-shirt idea. Some say if you only grow the main vine you will get as many tomatoes as an unruly plant.

  5. My cherry tomatoes look like a green monster right now. But so many tomatoes so I don't want to touch it. I have to make sure to thin it next time.

  6. I had a butt load of cherry tomatoes too Karen. I pulled them off and am ripening them in my window. It was the only way to save the plant.

    I too will think ahead next year!

  7. At least you have tomatoes! I had to stop growing them because the backyard critters were having a feast :(

  8. We only grew a few plants on our deck, but oh boy are they ever in tough shape! I'm ready to toss them - lots of yellow leaves, the tomatoes are getting smaller and smaller... I think they're just about done! Will have to try these next time!! :-)

  9. Oh no! That would be terrible! I don't even know how you would keep them out once the plants are bigger...other than building a greenhouse :(

  10. @Sheila - Were you able to get any fruit from them this year?