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I have a bundle of branches from a North American Maple in my yard, just cut down while pruning the tree in the spring.

I'm contemplating whittling down some 2-foot-long sticks to use as simple trellises for foot-tall young tomato plants (one per plant, stuck into the soil at the base).

Is there any risk of the Maple sprouting and/or sapping nutrients from the tomatoes? Should I heat them? What's the best temperature to heat wood, in order to sterilize but not burn it?

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    200-250° F for 2-3 hours will kill any parasites... and NO, you can't make it 'go faster' by increasing the temperature.
    – user3498
    May 19 '14 at 21:37
  • What species of 'North American maple'?
    – J. Musser
    May 20 '14 at 1:42
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The stakes will dry out and die very soon after cutting. You do not really have anything to worry about. They do not leach enough nutrients out of the soil to make any difference to the tomato plants whatsoever. You can use them upside down like I do with branch stakes. The small end is easier to push or pound in anyway.

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