Today I wanted to tell you about our “new” idea for staking the plants in our garden. Last year, we opted to use traditional tomato cages in our garden for all of our plants that needed to be supported. Even with only a few plants needing this done, the cost still added up. And my tomato and okra plants? They got so huge that the commercial cages were totally worthless. We still had to do all sorts of extra tricks to keep them from falling over towards the end. So, this year when it was time for commercial cages, we decided we would only buy a few for the plants we knew would stay smaller, such as the pepper plants. For our tomato and okra, we decided to use a more functional (and free) approach by using bamboo stalks from my grandmothers backyard.
You can see a commercial cage in the corner of this picture and compare the height difference. I’m much more confident that these stakes will support my plants as they get taller. Even better? They are natural, renewable, and free. Every year, my grandmother’s bamboo has to be thinned so it doesn’t overrule her backyard. So, instead of wasting the stalks that get cut down, we just decided to bring them to our house, let them dry out for a couple of weeks, and then trimmed them to size. We chose to trim ours to about 3′ tall, and tied them with some spare twine from the garage. So far, we just have the tomatoes done in the garden. We’ll be planting okra in the next few weeks and we’ll stake those the same way-although I may leave the stakes a little taller. My okra plants last year almost got tall enough to reach the lowest branches on our pecan tree!
Some of the spare stalks I decided to use for extra support for my orange tree. It was getting much wider than it was tall, and there isn’t yet enough strength in those tiny branches to support that weight. Plus, there are tons of tiny oranges where all of the flowers were a few weeks ago, so I figured I may as well stake it now before the fruit gets heavier!
If you have access to bamboo, I highly suggest you use it for your garden! it grows a lot faster than a tree when it’s cut down, and it’s strong and sturdy as a stake. If you want to change the shape of it (perhaps an arch? Or weave a few together?) my friend tells me that if you get it wet you can shape it any way you want. It’s a truly versatile, renewable, natural resource for homesteading. In fact, I’m even toying with the idea of using one of these stalks of bamboo to root my own along my fence line! It will offer privacy, dim the road noise, and I’ll always have my own bamboo for my garden when I need it.