Posted: 16/04/2014 at 07:41
Christopher, I grew Amish Paste years ago back in Sydney to try them out. They're a meaty but pretty bland variety, not a lot of juice. Best for use in sauces.
You only need a single, sturdy stake to support each plant. They come in all sorts these days, including aluminium. I stick to timber for sturdiness, and, for plants that I know to be big blokes, use 7' stakes. The bottom foot to 18" of it is driven into the soil for a solid anchor. For tying up, try to use something with a bit of give in it. Tying too tightly with a rigid material risks cutting into a stem as it grows and develops in size.
If you're thinking of saving seeds from one of your pure varieties, be aware of the potential for cross-pollination. If you've got plants adjacent to each other, and insect activity, cross-pollination is on the cards.
It's a good idea to "bag" the fruit you want to save seeds from. I buy packets of those ankle-length tights/stockings things. Cut off the bottom 3 or 4 inches so the toe-end creates the bag.
Select a truss of flowers. The key is to do this before any of the flowers open. Once open, they are vulnerable to foraging insects. Nip off any foliage on or around the truss that will end up inside the bag. Any foliage you leave will only grow inside the bag and crowd things.
Slip the bag over the truss, enclosing all the flowers, and tie it closed around the stem. Don't tie too tightly, just secure the bag to the stem. If you see any foliage developing inside the bag, slip it off and remove the foliage.
The bag only stays in place until you see that one or more of the flowers has set fruit. Once the fruit has set, there's no more danger of cross-pollination. Remove the bag and nip off any flowers that didn't set fruit. Importantly, tie something like some coloured thread or wool to the truss to identify it as the one you bagged. By the time you come to harvest the bagged fruit to save the seed, the plant will have grown, changed shape, and you'll never know which truss was bagged. As I know to my cost.
Not all flowers set fruit so it's a good idea to bag several trusses on a plant to increase your chances.