Stake or no stake tomato

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snipped-for-privacy@Underworld.com wrote:

Thank you very much, Persephone. It's my pleasure to share with fellow gardeners who love gardening as much as I do. Most of the veggies and fruit have been excellent this year. Must be all the rain ... cause it sure wasn't the heat!
Ether
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There's a contractor material called re-wire that's used in concrete. It's like a really stiff woven fence wire. There's also, come to mention it, really stiff woven fence wire at farm stores. You can split a roll with other tomato lovers and the resulting cages will last a long time. Do not try using 2" woven fence liner wire, as it's not sturdy enough and there's not room to get a tomato out through the cage. I have a quantity of thin rebar to that I drive in, two per cage, when a plant shows promise of getting heavy enough to topple over.

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TimB wrote:

Thanks for the tip. I think I actually have some of the stuff behind the shed. It's for laying concrete patios and was given to my by a neighour. I never thought of using it for a tomato cage, but it sounds good.
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IIRC, I think we ordered ours from Lee Valley. Some were purchased locally but the sturdy ones are really hard to find.

Your pictures and website are fantastic! I don't understand the uber-cage, unfortunately, but maybe my DH will when he sees it. :)
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Phaedrine Stonebridge wrote:

I've never seen them around here. They sound great.

Thank you very much, Phaedrine. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :-)

Sorry. I was hoping a picture would be worth a thousand words. :-)
Basically, the uber-cage consists of 8 ft. bamboo poles that I sink into the ground as deep as I can, at about 2.5 ft. intervals. Then I 'weave' 6 ft poles horizontally through the uprights and tie seal them to the uprights just above notches in the bamboo so they don't slip. You can see the first horizontals in June Ediblbes section. I also add bamboo 3-4 ft. lengths that go across the enclosure, again tie sealing above notches wherever possible. These seperate the various plants in the uber-cage. Then I add horitzontals as the plants grow, to keep them growing up. I sometimes add sticks on a diagonal to keep major tomato branches seperate and supported. You can see the second row of horizontals up in the August tomato bed shot. It looks flimsy, but it actually holds up really well. I had no tomato damage during 70 mph gusts we had during the storms on the weekend. The trees lost branches but, luckily, the cage held. The season is about a month behind here in southern Ontario. Looks like I'll be making alot of green tomato relish.
Ether
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Also, just a little X-bracing can add a lot of stability, especially against wind shear.

Ah ha! Thanks SO much for taking the time to describe it. It sounds and looks just awesome. :) We are always looking for ways to do more vertical gardening, though my husband is a bit weary of building new garden structures. We have only been in this house a little over a year so I keep telling him that the worst of it is already over. Our number one problem is what to do with peas, cucumbers, pole-type beans, melons and squash. In a previous fenced garden, we grew many of these up the fence and netted the larger items.
But we cannot have permanent fencing here (way too much to fence and some deed restrictions too), though we do have our berries espaliered on heavy gauge wires on 6x6" posts. The beans have grown just so-so on 8 foot tall tripods wrapped with some horizontal jute twine. The problem is that they get so bunched at the top and then start flopping all over the place. We also grew cukes on tripods. The only ones that did respectably well were the Divas. We had a huge yield of them before they finally got some kind of a wilt (yet another problem).
About mid-season, I sent away to Pinetree for some netting--- sturdy netting with holes large enough to put your hand thru in order to pick stuff. But my husband, as clever and handy as he is, was unable to come up with a way to use it. He tried wrapping the tripods with it but that did not work at all. Personally, I think we need horizontals at a height of at least 6 feet (for the beans anyway) from which to suspend the netting but I have no idea how to reliably anchor the netting at the bottom. We'd need something pretty demountable for storage purposes--- though bamboo does not rot, does it? If we made tall bamboo frames, I suppose we could store them under the deck if neither the netting nor the bamboo would rot. I am just dying to know how other people do this. I have seen lots of posts that were really general but few that actually say how to detail such trellises. If we could fashion a sturdy, practical design, we could construct them over the winter--- IF we can get bamboo somewhere. Where do you get yours BTW?
I was also thinking that with bamboo, lashing might work great and would be highly demountable. It sounds like that is what you are doing with your uber-cage. My husband thought my "lashing" idea was very amusing for some reason. LOL But he is not familiar with lashing methods as I have been. Being a former girl scout, we used to build darn near everything by lashing--- lean-tos, Adirondack platforms, camp stools and tables, you name it. Then again, I have never lashed anything as slippery as bamboo either.
I am open to all suggestions. :)
Phae
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On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 14:39:00 -0500, Phaedrine Stonebridge

We were able to find 10' fence-poles - these are the metal fence poles from which people hang welded-wire or woven-wire fencing. They are very sturdy. They have a flange at the bottom that goes into the ground and holds them upright.
We pounded these into the ground (we didn't actually do it ourselves: we had a handyman do it, my husband cannot swing a sledge hammer without causing himself lots of pain - the handyman has a fencepost-pounding-tool too which is a big help).
The fence posts are in a line. Then we ran a heavy wire across the top of the fence posts. Then we fastened netting (6" x 6" - from one of the garden suppliers, I forget which one) to the wire with plastic cable-ties.
This is for beans, peas, cukes. So far it seems to work pretty well.
We did it at the north end of the garden, to avoid shading the rest of the garden.
Pat -- To email me, remove the obvious word, and type my first name in its place. "Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy." - Wendell Berry
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snipped-for-privacy@meadows.pair.com wrote:

Thanks for the idea. This would only work for us in a place where we could leave them in the ground over the winter and I am not sure we have any place we can do that. But it sounds nice and sturdy. :) Is the netting vertical or do you tent it? And if the former, do you just let it hang or fasten it down some way?
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On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 19:57:38 -0500, Phaedrine Stonebridge

Yes, it's (fairly) permanent.

Vertical.
I fastened it to the ground with ground staples about 6' apart (roughly - didn't measure) - I forgot to mention that in my prior post.
I don't know that this is the *best* solution, but it's one we could manage to do. So that's good.
I've grown cukes around the outside of a circle of welded-wire fencing, about 5' high, in the past. This works well for them - some few develop inside the circle and you can't get to them, but it's only a few.
This is *not* permanent, so might be of interest to you.
I don't think it would be good for pole beans or peas, because I think too many of them would develop inside the circle and be inaccessible.
I've also grown pole beans on the traditional teepee but you're right, they bunch up at the top and flop around! Good description. But the teepee is easy to do and not permanent, so it does have those virtues at least.
Pat -- To email me, remove the obvious word, and type my first name in its place. "Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy." - Wendell Berry
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snipped-for-privacy@meadows.pair.com wrote:

I just purchased some of those so it is nice to know that they work well.

Thanks again for all your great ideas. :)
Phae
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In our last fun filled episode, Wed, 24 Sep 2003 14:39:00 -0500,
proclaimed:

PVC pipes.
I've made several trellises for flowering vines from PVC. It lasts for years, and you could use joints to make it possible to dismantle it for storage.
Pam
--
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < snipped-for-privacy@everybodycansing.com>
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Phaedrine Stonebridge wrote:

Exactly.
The bamboo is soooo easy to work with you could do it yourself. I love building the uber-cages. Very satsifying.

San Marzano tomatoes seem to like to wilt too .... luckily usually after it doesn't matter anymore. One summer I tried to grow vegetable marrow that all rotted. It's funny how certain things are precluded. I can grow pretty much anything but clematis. I've gone through a handful of plants and none of them lasted. Most everything else grows like gangbusters.

I've anchored stuff like that with rocks or bricks. I've braced plants that way too.

I take my uber-cages down for the winter to preserve the bamboo. It's pretty fast. Less time than it takes to put it up.

Yeah, it does eventually if you leave it in the ground.

That'd be fine for the bamboo, probably the netting too.

The garden centres around here all stock them, even the Home Depot's.

Yup. I buy rolls of green tie seal stuff at the dollar store. I can get tight above or beside the bamboo notches with just a twist. I cut them extra long, so that I can keep adding on at the joins.

I hear ya! My husband leaves all the lashing to me.

It's not so bad because when you get poles of the same thickness and length, the notches usually line up fairly well.

I think trial and error is half the fun. Good luck whatever you decide!
:-)
Ether
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<snip for brevity>

My San Marzanos were not good producers and did not like to ripen. No doubt they do better in other climates. But I know what you mean about certain plant types. I tried for years to grow heather and gaultheria but they need such incredibly acid soil that I just did not succeed. I'm sure you know clematises like shade at their feet. They can also be rather fussy about location.

Oh great; now I have a winter project (in all my spare time lol) if I can just find some bamboo. I will let my fingers do the walking first. :)

Thanks again :)
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Phaedrine Stonebridge said:

If you are willing to invest some money, a frame can be made of threaded pipe (the kind that is used for natural gas). You need two elbows, two 'tees' and a coupler, plus two 6' uprights, one cross-bar the width that you want the frame to be, two crossbars each about half that width, and two 'legs' about 2-1/2 feet long. All pieces must be threaded at both ends, except the 'leg' pieces which are threaded on one end only. Also get some plastic piping which is big enough in diameter to fit the pipe into. Cut that into 2-3/4 foot lengths. The pieces are put together in rectangular panel using the elbows at the top and the tees and coupler at the bottom. The 'legs' are then threaded into the tees.
Put the plastic pipe into the ground at the proper spacing and drop into them. The way I do this is to pound some closed-end pipe of about the same diameter into the ground using an 8 pound sledge hammer.
This results in a very sturdy frame which can be taken down at the end of the season. It won't rot, or blow over, or bend.
Lighter and more temporary frames can be made with electrical conduit and fittings constructed in roughly the same form and dropped into pipe in the ground. These are usually sturdy enough for peas but the thinner pipe can be bent and the frames collapsed if you've got a thick growth of beans and a strong storm blowing across them.
These frames can be wired with tomato-cage wire (permanently) or threaded each year with jute twine, which allows you to cut down the vines and support and compost the whole shebang.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is 'comcast')

Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
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snipped-for-privacy@someplace.net.net (Pat Kiewicz) wrote:

Thanks so much for the detail! I'm gonna have my husband read this and I bet he will have some questions later. I know he went looking for pipe once but had a lot of trouble finding the right connectors.
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snipped-for-privacy@u.washington.edu (Frank Miles) wrote:

The cages I used are stackable, square, metal and fold flat for easy storage. They were more expensive, but I think they will be a good investment for the future.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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snipped-for-privacy@ether.eh writes:

Those are great photos! My favorite is the one at the top (of the plums). There's something about its composition that is very appealing.
Thank you for sharing. :-)
Glenna
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Glenna Rose wrote:

Thanks! The rotten squirrels took that last quart or so off the tree in the past 2 days. It was pouring rain, so I didn't go out to pick them. Ack! They ate the last plum cake potential. It's the best plum crop I've ever had. Had the tree since fall 96, and it never had more than 2 or 3 successful fruits ... and every year I threatened to kill it if if didn't bear a decent crop. Last summer I cut down the other plum because it was throwing suckers up out of the rootstock. This one must have seen it and realized that I meant business! ;-)

Thanks for the kinds words, Glenna. :-)
Ether
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