Certain types of vegetables, including pole beans, tomatoes, eggplant and peas, grow on vines that often are not strong enough to support the bulk of the plant as it grows upward. These plants need a support system in place, either in the ground or in their containers. The plants attach themselves to or are gently tied to the supports, facilitating healthier growth.
Wooden stakes are inexpensive, sturdy and accessible. Bamboo and oak are common materials. These types of wood are strong and do not easily bend or break, plus they resist rotting and last longer than other types of wooden stakes. Plants grow straight up these stakes (with the help of ties) once the stakes are placed into the ground near the plant. Wigwams or tepees constructed of the wooden stakes give even more support to plants such as pole beans and peas.
This method involves both stakes and string and is useful for tomato plants. A wooden stake with a string attached is driven into the ground between every three tomato plants. The string from each pole is woven between the tomato plants, zigzagging between the plants as you go. Once you reach the next stake, tie the string to that stake. Take the string from the new stake and weave it in the same way, only back toward the pole you just left. Add strings to each stake as high as you need to to support the whole of the plants in between.
Plastic poles made of PVC pipe are inexpensive, durable and reusable. PVC pipe is cut to a length specific to your garden's needs, though the same 4- to 8-foot length used for wooden stakes is typically used for plastic stakes. Once inserted into the ground, plants may be tied to the plastic stakes. Holes drilled periodically through the plastic pipe (from one side through the other) add spaces for the ties to run through the pipe to make plants even more secure when tied. Tepees are also constructed of the plastic poles.
Wire Cage with Stakes
Although this option is not a proper pole, it is useful for vining plants and offers plenty of support. Purchase a 5-foot length of chicken wire or cement reinforcing wire and bend it into a tube shape. The final product should be a "cage" that is about 20 inches in diameter, placed over the plant. Place the tendrils of the vines or the actual vines themselves onto the wire cage to train the plant to grow on the structure. Hold the cages in place by inserting a stake into the ground near the cage, tying the cage to the stake.