previous
  • Go Green on the Patio
    Go Green on the Patio
  • Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
    Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
  • Planting the Right Way
    Planting the Right Way
  • Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
    Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
  • Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
    Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
  • Black Plants Done Right
    Black Plants Done Right
  • Garden Design Basics
    Garden Design Basics
  • DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
    DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
  • How to Grow Mustard
    How to Grow Mustard
  • Homegrown / Homemade
    Homegrown / Homemade
  • 3 Ways to Design with Containers
    3 Ways to Design with Containers
  • 20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
    20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
  • Plant Finder: Spring Plants
    Plant Finder: Spring Plants
  • Using Containers as Elements of a Design
    Using Containers as Elements of a Design
  • Pick Plants for Fragrance
    Pick Plants for Fragrance
  • Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
    Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
  • 10 Combinations for Shade
    10 Combinations for Shade
  • Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
    Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
  • Building Better Borders
    Building Better Borders
  • 10 Seed-Starting Tips
    10 Seed-Starting Tips
  • NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
    NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
  • Rex Begonias
    Rex Begonias
next

continued 1| 2| 3next>View all

The Supporting Cast for Tomatoes

Provide your vines with some structure for easier harvesting, bigger fruits, and a better yield

Photo/Illustration: Janet Jemmott

Sometimes I think there must be tomato sauce flowing through my veins. My earliest memories are of watching my parents water the tomato vines in the backyard and of my Italian grandfather, who boasted about the big, heavy, delicious tomatoes he had grown in rocky soil enriched with countless wheelbarrows of horse manure. As a kid, I spent many summers at my aunt and uncle's ranch, where they grew nearly a hundred acres of processing tomatoes. A stay at their house meant tomatoes at every meal. After harvest, when the fields were littered with rejected tomatoes, my brothers and I would have raucous tomato fights and come to the back door drenched with tomato pulp. For a while, I even worked in a tomato cannery, where the ground was paved with spilled tomatoes and the air was scented with ketchup.

These days, tomatoes are still a large part of my life, and summer would simply not be summer without lots of tomatoes. To keep my tomato plants happy and productive I give them the necessities of life: food, water, and light. But, for the greatest yields, they also require that I provide some means of support or trellising. Lifting and supporting the plants keeps the fruit clean and away from pests, provides better air circulation to help prevent disease, and makes it easier to see and harvest the fruit. I can also fit more plants into a smaller area by trellising them. All this translates into more and better tomatoes. During my many summers of tomato fixation, I've tried and observed many types of tomato supports and have found several tried-and-true structures that are readily available, dependable, and sure to keep the garden looking attractive and orderly.

More Info

Options for trellising your tomatoes

The type of support structure you choose depends on how much space you have and on the growth habit of your tomato plants.

More Info
Cage. Cage.

Cage
As a plant grows up through the cage, whether homemade or store-bought, tuck wayward stems behind the encircling wires. Best for determinate tomatoes.

Florida weave
This staking option works well when growing many tomato plants. Twine is woven around wooden stakes to support unpruned plants as they grow. Steel T-posts at the ends of the row hold the temporary structure in place. A good system for either determinate or indeterminate tomatoes.

Florida weave. Florida weave.

Spiral
As the vine grows, wind it around this elegant stake, tying it up if needed. Best for indeterminate tomatoes.

Ladder
As a plant grows, wind the stems through the rungs of the ladder, attaching them with a tie if needed. Best for indeterminate tomatoes.

Spiral. Spiral.
Ladder. Ladder.
Tripod. Tripod.

Tripod
Use this structure to support either a plant at the base of each leg (as pictured) or a single vine planted in the middle. Best for indeterminate tomatoes.

Tomato ties

Tomato ties come in many colors, widths, and materials. Click to enlarge image Tomato ties come in many colors, widths, and materials. Photo/Illustration: Scott Phillips

Many different products can be used to attach the tomato vines to the supports. A sampling is shown in the photo at right. Top to bottom, the options include paper-coated twist-tie, stretch tie, plastic-coated steel wire, twine, Velcro brand hook-and-loop fastener, nylon tie, and plastic-coated twist tie.

Illustrations: Michael Gellatly
From Fine Gardening 86 , pp. 48-52

continued 1| 2| 3next>View all