Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Do I Support Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

Last year I got to trellising the tomatoes too late. This year, the same. But because of all the cloudy weather, the tomatoes have not grown fast, allowing me to rig up my trellis easily.

I went with last year's system. It worked, cheap, simple. Attach bamboo pole to the exterior of the wood planter with copper-plated pipe brackets (15 cents each at corner hardware).

I added "X" cross-members to the vertical poles. The junction of these "X"s will hold up the main stem. Everything simply tied with jute twine. New bamboo poles are painted green, the old are gray. The green rubs off on your hands rather easily; wishing they'd just leave 'em the color they are. You can see in the photo, below on left, my other method using netting.

Below are a couple of views of my trellis system that I prefer to use when I am planting in the ground, in longer rows. I line up the wooden stakes, in this case 1 x 2 pine, spacing evenly. Then slide the 2 or 3 inch square netting over the wooden stakes. The netting may be taught or loose depending on the regularity of the stake spacing. Then I use a staple gun to secure any loose anchor points. I add three or four layers, making sure they are level and evenly spaced. I only use this method when the tomatoes are young, so that they can grow through the netting, as it can be tricky to weave a tall plant through. However, you must teach new growth where to go for this method to work. If you do, it works great.

Terrible photo, but here is the one young tomato I'm growing with this method. I haven't anchored the netting to the stakes yet.

Below are two photos of a similar method used by my friends. They surrounded each tomato with four stakes and attached a more flexible netting. I would eliminate the extra two stakes in the middle and simply run the net the length of the row. Having converted to this method after years of gawd-awful cone-shaped metal tomato cages (you know the kind), they report that its doing quite well.

And that concludes this year's love apple support report.


  1. i was just about to go to a hardware store to look for support (for tomatoes, not for me). i think i will try this. it looks far less complicated than the twine tying exercises.

  2. i meant try the net method.

  3. If you are planting in rows it is real easy. Just get those stakes in straight.
    Staple the netting on and train them through a little, they'll figure it out after a while.

  4. yep. planting in a 5-gal bucket, trying 4 bamboo poles, with mesh threaded thru or tyed on. them tomatoes, that is. if they don't succumb to blight.

    thanks, man. i enjoy your blog.

  5. Thanks! and good luck. I hear its a blight year.

  6. I like the netting idea. I've been using 8-foot stakes, one on either side of a plant and then tying the plant to them. Unfortunately, my tomatoes are already 9 feet tall and still growing. I think I need to just cut the tops out of them, root them and then plant the rooted cuttings.


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