Tomato supports (Gardening) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Okay, here I go again with one of my hare-brained ideas. I am thinking of taking wire fencing and stretching it across a frame of 1 x 2s or 2 x 3s and attaching legs to it so it looks like a table which is about four feet across and 20 feet long. The legs will be about six inches high. Then I want to plant a 20' x 4' patch of tomatoes with the plants spaced maybe 12 inches apart. Then I will put this table over the plants and cut holes in the fencing to allow the plants to be pulled up through and then the plants can rest on the top of the "table" as they grow. I also plan to spread straw and grass clippings on this table so the tomatoes will be resting on this. I figure this will allow the tomatoes to be up off of the ground but I won't have to try to tie them up because I never seem to be able to do this well and it will allow for me to mulch under the table as well to keep the weeds down. Because it is only 4 foot wide, I can reach the plants easily from either side to pinch them back and to pick tomatoes. I've tried just mulching the plants on the ground but this never seems to work well. The mulch seems to separate and the tomatoes end up in contact with the ground and then the slugs or whatever eat them. I lost quite a few last year that way. Can anybody tell me if this is going to be a problem, waste of effort or whatever drawback you can see?

-- Colleen (, March 28, 2001


How about using something like rebarb and making boxes around the plants ? Just seems like alot of work .

-- Patty {NY State} (, March 28, 2001.

Colleen- your idea would probably work. I don't like to let the tomatoes sprawl because it seems as if it makes it harder to find them all to pick. I prefer to use a piece of 5' tall concrete reinforcing wire, about 9' long. I join the ends to form a cylinder and put this "ring" over the plants. That way there isn't much tying required- the plants get really big and I usually just pull some of the branches through the holes in the wire and they are pretty well supported.

-- Elizabeth (, March 28, 2001.

Seen this done.circular cages are better.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, March 28, 2001.

In Australia, someone wrote an article about having done something to this effect. They used metal mesh (weld-mesh) that is normally used for making gates - fills in the frame and provides bracing all at once (mesh about 4" by 8"; slabs about 3' by whatever long). Used tall star-picket posts, wired three slabs of the mesh to them at about eighteen inch vertical spaces. Trained the tomatoes up through the mesh (like three stacked mesh table-tops), then let the plants just sprawl out at each height. Enough ventilation to control fungous diseases, enough shade to conserve moisture, enough light to grow, could reach in to every part of the plants, nothing sprawling on the ground to rot or to attract slugs.

-- Don Armstrong (, March 28, 2001.

I have planted next to chain-link fencing using the fence as support and done well... Also used cages - too short, and sticks - have to be braced. This year I have to try netting.

My only advice - Don't use chickenwire. It can be done, but it rusts and if you don't stretch it REALLY tight it sags too much... At least... that's what happened to me -

-- Sue Diederich (, March 29, 2001.

make circular cages using wire mesh put in concrete driveways. make them about 18 inches across. before planting tomatoes, dig hole about 18 inches deep & round as your wire cage, alternate manure, compost (or leaves) soil from the hole until level with planting area. plant the seedling deep, leave only 3 leaves above ground, this makes for a very good root system. i prune the sucker leaves as they come out above the limbs & train the limbs out the wire squares to support the tomato plant. leave at least a foot between wire cages. do not over water, you will only get a large plant. my tomatoes grow out the top of 7 foot cages & produce til frost. happy organic gardening! Larry

-- Larry in OK-zone 7 (, March 31, 2001.

Hey Larry! About your cages? Do you just cut the wire 7 feet long and turn it around to meet on the edges? How wide is this stuff? How long is the roll? I have never bought it before. Thanks

-- bonnie (, April 04, 2001.

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