Trellising Tomatoes

Did y’all enjoy your holiday weekend?

We had our first “farm warming” party, which lit the fire under us to get our house and property in tip-top shape. Or, at least, in decent enough shape to welcome our extended family and friends. We spent the 4th doing what most Midwesterners do – enjoy barbecue burgers, potato salad, and sit around outside talking about how hot it was.

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In order to get ready to host a dozen or so family members, I spent the week prior focused on unpacking and cleaning the house, while Phill spent that same time cutting the grass. In case you wondered, it takes him three and a half hours to cut our four-ish acres on a riding mower. I think he was only asked that question six times during the party! In that week of indoor preparations, the garden grew and grew! Which leads to today and building our tomato trellises.

We’ve grown tomatoes in the past and used a few different methods for trellising. We started with tomato cages, but our indeterminate tomatoes quickly outgrew the little cages we had purchased. Our next move was to shove a handful of bamboo stakes into the ground and tie up the main stalks with kitchen twine. This method wasn’t the best, but it worked in the past because we only had three or four tomato plants.

This year we have thirty – give or take. And we needed something a bit more structured than our haphazard bamboo staking. After reading a handful of articles and watching half a dozen youtube videos, I decided this year to trellis our tomatoes, we would use “the Florida weave”. The idea behind the Florida weave is to sandwich the stalk of your plants between two lengths of twine.

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Given the sheer number of tomato plants we have this year, we knew individual cages would not be cost effective. The Florida weave style of trellising allowed us to support all of our plants with minimal cost. The fence posts were four dollars a piece, which added up, given that we needed 12 of them. But, these posts are reusable from year to year and are worth the investment in our eyes.

To do “the weave,” you need:

  • tomato plants, planted in a straight row
  • fence posts or sturdy metal stakes
  • twine
  • twist ties, optional

Insert your metal posts into the ground at both ends of your tomato row. We opted for five foot tall fence posts, which left us with four feet above ground to utilize in trellis weaving. About 12 inches from the ground, tie your twine to one of your stakes. Weave the twine between each plant. When you get to the end of the row, give the twine a quick wrap around the opposite stake, and weave your way back to where you started. Pull the twine tight and tie to secure. This should create a nice loop of twine around the main stalk of each tomato plant. To give our plants an extra bit of support, I wrapped twist ties around the twine surrounding the main plant stalk.

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Repeat for each row of tomatoes until all of your plants are standing nice and tall. As the plants continue to grow, add another layer of twine weaving, gradually working your way up the fence posts (every 8-12 inches) depending on how top heavy the branches are.

Ba-da-bing. Ba-da-boom. Easy.

Now you can casually wander through your garden, sipping a glass of wine, and search for the tiniest of tomato buds.

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May your gardens and your hearts be full.

 

 

DIY Tomato Trellis

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