Big Boy tomato plants live up to their name with stalks and vines that can grow over six feet tall and produce sizable and plentiful fruit. They are a hybrid tomato plant variety that has grown in popularity with gardeners over many decades. Many gardeners want to know, do Big Boy tomatoes need to be staked?
Big Boy tomatoes need to be staked. It is essential to stake Big Boy tomatoes to control the plant’s growth while also supporting its heavy vines and beefy fruit. Typically, if a Big Boy tomato remains unstaked, it will sprawl out across the earth, becoming a much larger plant than when controlled by a staking method.
Once the plant achieves this uncontrollable size, challenges with pruning and harvesting will arise. As inaccessible fruit begins to rot and more vines and leaves take over, pests and mildew inevitably appear, taking a toll on the plant and its fruit.
So while your Big Boy tomatoes may initially seem to thrive without staking, the benefits of staking will soon outweigh those of not.
Read on to learn more about your options with staking Big Boy tomatoes.
3 Ways To Stake Big Boy Tomatoes
The two most popular ways to stake Big Boy tomatoes are with a post stake or tomato cage. However, many gardeners also successfully grow these tomatoes along trellises or fencing.
Trellises and fencing allow for the tomato plant to grow tall and wide while keeping the vines and fruit safely off the earth, preventing pests, mildew, and fruit rot. The trellis allows for more of the plant to have access to sunlight as the vines spread out and up through the fencing.
While building a trellis or fencing can be quite time-consuming and labor-intensive, it is a structure that can remain in place to be used year after year. Some gardeners say that the amount of sunlight the plant receives while trellised results in earlier and more plentiful harvests.
Tomato cages can be an easy solution to staking Big Boy tomatoes but are not always the most effective. Many store-bought tomato cages are short and/or unstable, and the size of the Big Boy tomato plant can quickly overpower a cage.
Some gardeners choose to construct their own larger scale, sturdier tomato cages that can control the size of larger tomato plants like Big Boys. When tomato cages remain stable, they hold the plant in a way that doesn’t require as much pruning.
The reduction in pruning results in more foliage that helps keep the soil moist, so the plant stays hydrated. Although an effective tomato cage can keep a Big Boy tomato under control, the contained foliage can result in delayed harvests that are less plentiful.
Post stakes are the most straightforward and least space invasive method of staking Big Boy tomatoes. Post stakes can be manufactured from various materials and purchased at any gardening center or created at home from scrap lumber or fallen branches.
As the plant grows, it needs to be incrementally tied onto the post stake, which results in keeping the vines and fruit off the earth. This staking method requires the gardener to prune the plant periodically, but pruning can result in larger fruit and an easier harvest.
Read on to learn more about pruning tips with Big Boy tomatoes.
Pruning Big Boy Tomatoes
When pruning tomatoes, it’s important to know if you are growing a determinate or indeterminate variety of tomato plants. Determinate varieties of tomato plants require very little pruning, whereas indeterminate varieties require more training of the shoots and regular pruning because they grow like vines. Big Boy Tomatoes are an indeterminate variety.
Because of the very structure of the Big Boy tomato plant and other indeterminate varieties, regular pruning of suckers as well as yellowing shoots and leaves helps to direct all of the nutrients the plant absorbs to its hefty tomato fruit.
The yellowing shoots and leaves are easy to identify however the suckers are tiny little bits of growth that often appear where an established vine is already branching out from the main body of the plant. You must look closely to identify suckers. Checking for and removing these elements of your Big Boy tomato plant weekly can help extend the plant’s life and enhance the quality and abundance of your harvest.
Read on to learn more about harvesting tips with Big Boy Tomatoes.
Harvesting Big Boy Tomatoes
While many gardeners patiently await vine-ripened tomatoes, others prefer to harvest tomatoes before they are cherry red and falling off the vine with ease. There are benefits to both methods of harvest.
Depending on weather conditions, Big Boy plants can begin to possess ripened, harvestable tomatoes around 70 – 80 days after the plant’s seed has germinated. After that 70 – 80 days, if the Big Boy tomato plant is well cared for and pruned regularly, it can continue to produce fruit up to the first autumn frost.
Gardeners who prefer vine-ripened tomatoes can wait until the fruit is bright red with a warm softness, and the tomato will easily snap off the vine. There is nothing like the juicy flavor of a vine-ripened tomato; however, waiting for Big Boy tomatoes to ripen on the vine can increase the risk of pests and disease before getting to enjoy that juicy tomato. This is a risk many gardeners are willing to take.
Another option of harvesting Big Boy tomatoes is to snap the fruit off the vine while it is still orange or even a bit yellow and allow the fruit to finish ripening in an indoor location safe from pests and disease.
Depending on their harvested color, tomatoes will ripen on a kitchen counter on their own in as few as one and up to five days. If a gardener wants to speed up the process, they can try keeping the tomatoes in a paper bag but be careful; this can sometimes lead to rot instead of ripening.
Regardless of how you prefer to harvest your Big Boy tomatoes, it’s important that you prune the top off the plant’s central shoot towards the end of the growing season when the first frost is in sight. This allows for any remaining nutrients to be directed into the last tomatoes before your final harvest.
Final Tips On Care for All Tomatoes
Growing tomatoes can be joyful and challenging all at the same time. Challenges can be specific to the plant variety or differ depending on the environment in which you live. Getting to know a specific variety, like the Big Boy tomato, intimately, as well as the weather patterns of your local environment, will best ensure you have a long and healthy growing season with a bountiful harvest.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!