What can be worse than rambling tomato vines and rotting fruits sprawling all over the garden? How about spending money on tomato cages and fancy supports that really are not up to the task of keeping your tomato vines upright, productive, and happy!
I’m trying a brand new tomato staking system in my garden this summer and here’s a video to help show how simple, easy, and inexpensive it can be to trellis tomatoes in your backyard garden:
Start with the tallest metal fence posts you can find, add a spool of 16 gauge wire, something to tie the tomato vines onto the wire, and there you have everything needed to train and trellis your heirloom tomatoes.
I’m using the tomato trellis clips from Johnny’s Seeds and while they are made of non-biodegradable plastic, they are reusable and can be used from one season to the next. There are also other applications such as training cucumber vines that will put these clips to good use.
Pruning your tomato vines and removing the sucker growth is an important part of the trellising process, but it takes very little effort if you are consistent about it. I have to thank and credit Leslie Zuck of Common Ground Farm for sharing this trellising system at last winter’s annual PASA Conference.
As with any growing method, you should plant your tomato transplants very deeply when setting them out in order to encourage strong root systems. Leslie also emphasized using a mulch around the tomato plants as part of this trellising system. That’s something I normally don’t do with my tomatoes but I’m following her advice and applied a straw mulch after transplanting.
I’ve just strung my third strand of wire along the row and this tomato trellis system is working out better than the cages ever did for me. Plus the wire can be reused over and over, and the t-posts will take up much less space in storage during the off-season.
I don’t think that I’ll be going back to using cages anytime soon! In fact, if anyone local is looking for a couple dozen used tomato cages, I know where you can find some.
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