By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
A long time ago, I learned a very valuable lesson when it comes to raising tomatoes and that is to trellis them up.
I have been guilty of planting my tomatoes and with good intentions planned on going back the next day and trellising them up.
As you can imagine sometimes life gets in the way but it is very important to trellis up your indeterminate tomato plants.
While this chore may bore you, the choices of trellising material can make that dreaded task more interesting.
1. Tomato Cage - An old-fashioned tomato cage is always a great choice when it comes to trellises. It is easy to use, reusable, and stores away quickly. The tomato plants are trained to grow inside this type of trellis. The wires going around the cage is what actually supports the tomato plant but ties can be added for additional support.
2. Wooden Stakes – Wooden stakes are another great type of support. They are either screwed into the side of a raised bed, such as in square foot gardening, or pushed down into the soil. The tomato plant is then tied to the stake with an old T-shirt, garden tie and/or garden string, or old pantyhose. The key to using this kind of support is to make sure not to tie the plants too tight and to tie them in several places. While this type of support can be reused, it typically is only good for two years.
3. Wire Fencing – Looking for a use for that old chain-link fence, look no more. Turn the fence into a tomato trellis. This type of trellis is wonderful if you have several tomato plants to trellis. What makes this material so wonderful is its durability, ease of setting up, and the fact that both sides can be used. It, in a since, combines the positives of both tomato cages and wooden stakes.
To utilize this type of trellis material requires one to place some posts in the ground. These posts will then be used as support for the fencing material. Once this is done, unroll the chain-link fence and attach to the posts. Now you are ready to plant and trellis. The easiest way of using this material is to plant your tomato plants and then the same day tie them to the chain-link fence. The tying material can be garden twine and old cotton clothing, just to name a few.
Trellising is one of those garden chores that can make or break a garden season. Doing it at the time of planting saves plant material from plant diseases that would normally occur from plant and soil contact. It also, believe it or not, saves time. Plants are smaller and easier to handle when they are first planted. In doing so, they do not take as much time to trellis compared to when they have grown and spread out on top of the soil.
If I did not cover your favorite trellising technique for tomatoes, drop me a line and tell me how you support your tomato plants.
So until we blog again, may your dreams be filled with joys one finds when eating that first juicy tomato of the garden season.