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Friday, May 22, 2009

My way or the highway



Over the past few years, tomatoes have been the center piece of my garden. I bet many of you feel that way about your garden. Tomatoes are the most versatile fruit when it comes to canning. we can store much more "needed" food stuff when we have a bounty of tomatoes.

But then there is that issue of trellising them. Should you are shouldn't you. And if you shall, how?

Trellising has it's benefits. Helps keep your fruit off the ground. Allows you to plant a little more tightly, helps the fruit grow larger. But how to go about trellising, what really works?

Their are several ways to train and trellis tomatoes. Most of the time however, without proper pruning, trellising just doesn't seem to work. At least for me. And most of the plant will end up on it's side at one point or another. I have done field fencing, tomato cages, large sticks tied together, you name it, I have tried it, and have never been completely happy with the out come.

Don't get me wrong, I do manage to harvest quantities of tomatoes, but most lay on the ground. Either because the weight of the plant was more than the trellis could hold, or that ever present Kansas wind has kicked up it's heels. Tomatoes do seem to be of the mind set that it is their way or the highway with you.

This year we are going to put that free rebarb to work. We can sink it into the ground deeper, it it strong, and hopefully this will help. With a little construction grade fencing, we might actually have a winner.

What type of trellising have you found successful for your tomatoes?

14 comments:

Annette said...

Our tomato trellising seems to be as successful as yours. The one year that our tomatoes were just out of this world was when we had a center, large, wooden stake and then used panty hose to tie up the main branches, the rest of the plant just kind of bushed out - it was amazing. We may try that again this year.

Juniper said...

I use large metal stakes (6-12 feet long)and old T-shirts to tie the tomatoes to the stakes. All the indeterminate varieties get pruned as they grow (pinch off sucker stems between the leaf and the main stem). This has worked great for about 7 years, it keeps the plants off the ground and lets them grow vertically taking up less space. Some plants get over 8 feet tall. The disadvantage is the time it takes, and all the T-shirts. I will post pictures on freedom gardners. Juniper

jaz said...

i tried everything until i found the tomato ladders. they are study and strong and this year i tied them together in my new raised beds and i am counting on them to work even better. you can have a look at them on my blog under gardens. i think one key to tomatoes is spending time on them. i take off the branches that aren't producing and if i get too many blossoms i take some of those off as well. i cut them back to keep them from getting too leggy. i also take off anything that turns yellow or brown.

rsw said...

I get a 4 ft x 8 ft web trellis (4 inch openings) from the local hardware store and use pvc pipes for my vertical supports and 1x3 or 1x2 horizontally. As the plants grow, I weave them through the netting. I had raised beds, so I sunk a slightly wider piece of PVC into the soil and clamped it to the bed, then put the vertical pvc pieces into that. The long end of the netting ran down the bed, so the tomatoes had four feet to grow up on, up to a height of about 6 ft, since it was suspended about 2 feet off the ground. That allowed me to have room to grow something underneath, and not worry about splashing water on the lower leaves when watering (anything under the trellis eventually got pruned).

The Thinker said...

Last year, I crammed about a dozen tomato plants into a raised bed. I put six tomato cages (the round kind) into the bed and tied them all together and tied the tomato plants to the cages with twine.

Anything that threatened sagging onto the ground got tied to the nearest piece of cage. It became such a dense web of cages, tomatoes, and string that it was VERY sturdy.

It was also a huge mess to dismantle when the plants started to die.

This year, the tomatoes are planted in rows. I've used junk that's laying around the yard for sticking them. Old cedar branches, rebar, metal fence posts...

I have actually made arrangements with a freecycle neighbor to cut some bamboo from her yard to use, but haven't been able to find time to actually go do it. I think bamboo stakes would be great.

Julie said...

These are what I've used the last two years and I love them. I have the tomato and the melon ones and they rock! I've never had one lean or tip (even in the stupid Kansas wind!) and they can hold 6+ melons on the melon one without even thinking about tipping. I cannot rave enough. They are kinda pricey, but I bet your husband could make some, he seems handy and all you'd need is rebar, a welder and bright paint (the bright paint really adds something special!).

Stephanie in AR said...

For two years we have used concrete re-enforcing wire for cages. Last year I staked them down with rebar and none of the cages tipped over. They are awkward to store & moving them to the new place was a trip (36 cages) but well worth the effort. And if we ever need to do any concrete work we have the supplies on hand ; )

Jason said...

i tried some tomato cages last year and thought they were largely a waste of time and money. This year I am trying a mixture of rebar posts and stakes that I cut off my aunt's crape myrtle. we'll see how it goes...

Stephanie said...

We've not found anything we are real happy with either. This year we are using hog panels. I let you know how it goes. :)

Lisa said...

I simply sink those plastic covered garden stakes into the raised bed and tie clothesline between them to trellis. They are the same system I used for the peas and beans and you can see them in action with the peas a couple of posts down on my blog.

Of course, I don't have he kind of wind that you do, but these have worked for me for years!

San Diego Farmgirl said...

I love the large tomato cages, but we don't have the weather you all do.

Bridget said...

We use the Florida Weave.. http://www.foogod.com/~torquill/barefoot/weave.html Basically, we put posts at every other tomato and string it up along the row. We add string as they grow, about every 8 to 12 inches. Nothing has seemed to work perfectly, but I like this best so far.

farm mom said...

I have the same lousy luck when it comes to pruning and trellising tomatoes. So, I just don't anymore. We mulch heavily (to keep the fruits off the ground) and let them grow however they wish!! :)

ChristyACB said...

I do mine a lot like Mr. Thinker does and it seems to work for me for the most part.

I do use some of those super expensive cages that Burpee sells and I will say that they stand up no matter what. Even through a tropical cyclone they stood. But they just are too expensive to have a lot of, I think.

They are always spilling over the sides and looping around by the end of the season. That is just part of the joy of tomatoes for me. :)

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