How are you guys trellising your tomatoes?

whfpaJune 12, 2014

I have 10, 100ft rows of tomatoes (about 1000 plants total). My spacing is intensive, 9-10in between plants.

I'm looking for ideas on inexpensive trellising for all 10 rows. i was thinking basket weaving but there's too many post involved.

Thanks in advance.

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I can't think of anything that is going to be less expensive that weaving - you should only need posts every ten feet so in reality that is not all that many. Any other system is going to need posts, unless you use sunflowers or something like that for them to grow up. I have used bamboo poles for each plant then spin-wrap them but as close as your spacing is that's probably not going to work. Posts are going to be a capital expenditure so at least you can write them off. Sorry not to have any better ideas.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:30PM
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weaving requires posts every other plant but as tom said its the cheapest way to go. maybe with your plants being so crowded together you can get away with fewer posts.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:12AM
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I've been using my own sloppy approach to the Florida weave. My one small improvement is drilling 3 holes in the hardwood stakes so I can thread the twine through them. That way the strings don't slide down the post.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:11PM
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Your right, Randy - must not be getting enough sleep. IIRC I used T-posts every ten feet and some old bamboo stakes between. It worked but was not the most beautiful thing. We got a bunch of used woven wire at a farm sale a few years ago and use that now. A little more work but stands the wind better.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:05PM
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I think I've came up with a solution. I'm going to put in 2 or 3 10 foot t-post per row and string some left over high tension wire and tighteners over the length of the bed. From the wire hang some tomato string and clip each plant to the string. as it grows ill twist the tomato plant around the string to keep it upright.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:18AM
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I plant my tomatoes 16" to 20" and place a t post every 4 or 5 plants and they weave up great. T posts are nice in that the bumps on them keep the twine from sliding.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:58AM
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I've got T posts every 7 ft or so (depending on rocks) and 3-4 plants between. Biggest is probably Brandywine (I don't know how large Mark Twain, Orange Minsk, Golden Queen get since I haven't grown them before). Think I need wooden stakes between?

Got my hot peppers (about 40, I forget) planted today, still have sweets and some determinate tomatoes left to get in the ground - and a lot of indeterminates that didn't sell so I may throw them in if I can find room, only planted 6 of each. Have 24 varieties of tomatoes this year.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:34PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I trellis our outside tomatoes the same way we trellis the inside ones. I only grow determinate outside, so 4 foot stakes are tall enough. I drive 1 2 by 2 post between every 4 plants. The plants are planted in a zig zag fashion with 2 feet between each plant and there are two rows in each bed. I was running out of wood posts so I subbed in 1 inch PVC pipes. I have done this before, they are strong and I haven't had problems in the past.

I run a string on a string on each side of the posts. I pull the string tight and run it on each side of the tomatoes. I pull it tight from one end and then I pull it tight from the other end. It secures the posts and keeps every thing tight.

Once the plants get tall enough and full enough, I only run the string on the outsides of the posts.

This post was edited by jrslick on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 0:27

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:08AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)


    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:14AM
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We're using a modified version of the standard greenhouse vertical system. Because we have some of our heirloom tomatoes in a nonpermanent hoophouse--which doesn't have a strong enough structural support system for tensioning the wire that runs the length of the tomato rows--we opted to sink aluminium chain link fencing posts along the row, drill a bolt through the top of each, attach a turnbuckle to the bolt (for tensioning the wire), and then run wire along the lengths of the row. We then suspend string from the wire (tied with plenty of slack and a half clove hitch, so that it can later be loosened and have some of the slack let out) and train the tomato up the string with tomato clips. Once they reach the top, it's easy to loosen the string a bit, lay the bottom of the vine in a coil on the ground, and retie the string. This continues throughout the season so that the plants end up producing ~12 feet of vine.

There are more expensive ways of doing this that end up simplifying things somewhat, but this was the hybrid approach that worked for us in our moveable hoophouse.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:42PM
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skatcon(z3 MN)

Second spring
I use a similar system but have always slid the tomatoes sideways or diagonally Eliot Coleman style. This year I want to keep them vertical and coil them at the bottom but can't figure out how you coax the vines to coil at the bottom. Any hints?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 11:45PM
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Jay - IIRC, you don't prune other than the lowest ft or so. How do you get the plants to stay in the twine? I'm finding I need to prune suckers that go shooting off between the rows, or outside the twine b/c they're growing almost horizontally. Some plants also seem to want to have the main stem slide sideways within the twine, leaning into their neighbors. Makes it hard to get good air flow. And then when I do manage to corral a bunch of tall vertical suckers, they're all crowded in that 2-3" space between the twine - again, no air flow.

I'm wondering if it might be easier and just as productive next year to put in a single row, still 20-24" between plants, but center the row between the 2 rows of T posts (posts are 7ish ft apart in 2 rows 2ft apart) and let them get bushy within that 2ft space, only put twine on outsides of posts? Or will they slide sideways even more than this year's plants are?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:00PM
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I just can't believe you growers with greenhouses aren't using the framework for support. That's half of the benefit of having a greenhouse.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:11PM
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We have 1200 ft of tomato trellis that is two years old. We used pine 2x4s ripped in half on the table saw. I sharpened one end into a point and used t post driver. They are at 8 ft apart and we plant six tomatoes between posts. We used Florida weave to get the tomatoes of the ground. I tried modified Missouri, but I didn't like it. Now I just pinch off all suckers.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 9:44AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I've given up on trellising at all. I'm just growing determinates like fenda, mountain spring and pik red. I'm playing tomato twister every week to get them all picked. but it's easier than tying them up and taking it down later. The cherry tomatoes I didn't stake aren't really any harder to pick than the ones that I staked last year. I kept having to twist my hands between the strings to get them out anyway. This year I'm just twisting my back. I call it "tomato yoga" I'm flexible as can be

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:57PM
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