This year I plan to have over 250 tomato plants. I have made lots of raised
beds, 3X6 feet. Last year I put groups of two plants every 2 feet (12 to a
bed) so that two plants could share a single cage and a single drip emitter.
This year I think I will stagger them in a zig-zag every foot, to get more
in each bed, two rows to a bed, watered down the middle of each row with one
of those 1/4" tubes with holes punched every 6 inches.
Does anyone have any creative and not-too-difficult idea for how to support
these plants? Would some structure down the center of the bed work, or
should I put something on the outsides of the beds, or use individual cages
spaced every few feet and let the tomatoes just find them? I obviously
don't want to purchase 250 cages, but I also don't want these plants
trailing all over the ground. (Last year my tomatoes got up to about ten
Any interesting suggestions will be appreciated.
The folks at the Seed Saver's exchange headquarters in Decorah Iowa do
6-foot (I think) Metal T-posts are driven in a row every 8 or 10 feet,
with mesh fencing attached. Tomato plants are on either side of this every
few feet, and trellised to the fencing. I tried a simplified version last
year- wood slats and baling twine- and it worked pretty well.
Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic
Zone 5/6 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G
The way that I have seen it done on a commercial scale is a tensioned
trellis. You have heavy braced posts at each end of each row and 4 or 5 (or
more) tensioned gal wires between them. In between thin stakes (like
traditional tomato stakes) are interpolated about every 1 1/2 m (5ft) and
wired to the horizontal wires to prevent sagging. The tomatoes are tied to
the horizontal wires with cheap string that will last a season. Once
erected the effort of tying them up is much less than with individual stakes
as the ties don't slip, you just work along a row with a bunch of cut string
in your belt tying up to the next wire as they get tall enough. This uses
less material than cages or a stake for every plant and it won't blow over.
You run the rows north-south (or south-north if you are in the other
Much like Gary recommends..
T-posts, cattle panels and lots of jute twine. I use 6 foot posts and
wire the five foot panels a foot off the ground, in order to easily
mulch, etc. around the plants. The panels and posts are quick to set
up, dismantle in fall and store and don't take much storage space. My
brother-in-law sandwiches his plants between two rows of panels.
I like cattle panels because of their durability and large openings,
making it easy to reach thru, tie to, etc.
I am growing 60 tomato plants just for me, myself and I. For no one else!
It takes 56 pounds of tomatoes to make 7 quarts of juice. Plus I want to
preserve salsa, whole tomatoes, dice tomatoes, sauce and vegetable soup.
This is just for one years use. For a large family, 250 plants is just
about right. Tomatoes are basic staple in my life. Homemade vine ripe
tomato juice is just delightful. I might even try to make my own ketchup
this year :)
Not all plants will take. What does the organic gardner say. Plant one
for the mouse, one for the bugs, one for the animals and one for
yourself. I think that is how it goes. If I run out of canning jars and
lids the extra makes good compost.
Enjoy Life... Dan
wow, what do you do with all the tomatoes, literally a ton I'd imagine
What the kids don't eat (and with 60 plants last year, there wasn't much
left over, if that gives you an idea of how much they love tomatoes!) will
get made into sauce. And of course the neighbors will get some!
My Dad used this based on the idea YEARS ago,
Hope this helps, but with 250 you need to be nuts about toms.(as I am)
Will you let me know your eventual solution please?
I grow about 40 plants each year and never have enough tomatoes and also
don't have enough time or room to experiment.
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