What size obelisk for tomatoes?

lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)May 10, 2010

As a follow up to the "attractive tomato bed" thread, I have a question. I am hoping to grow a few indeterminate tomatoes and have decided I'd like to bite the bullet and buy a few obelisks for them. First, will this work? Second, how tall must they be? I've read some about pruning tomato suckers for productivity, but haven't found much on pruning for size. Is it possible to prune to limit height and still get good production? I've read about "topping off" 30 days before frost to get tomatoes to ripen.

My concern stems from the small size of my potager. It has been a long time since I've grown tomatoes in the ground, and I forgot how big they can get. What can I expect in my zone?

My obelisk choices are 5', 7' and 8'. 8' would look ludicrous in my small space, I think (the entire potager is only 14.5' wide and with a one foot lift in the raised bed, the obelisk would end up 9' in the air). From a visual standpoint, I think 5' would be about as big as I'd really want in the space. Is it a stupid question to ask if I can prune the tomatoes to keep them within that size? I figured only those of you here in the potager forum would understand a desire to balance the production of the plant with aesthetics! LOL. What I'm suggesting may be heresy.

Thanks so much in advance if you can help educate me!

Lisa

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ali-b

You could try growing some determinate or bush tomatoes that are good for containers. Or, you could definitely top your indeterminates to the size you want. You'll just lose out on any tomatoes that it would have set on the taller vines. I suppose for some it would be heresy to trim up your vines, but, hey, they're your 'maters!

This year I'm trying beefsteak and roma determinates and 4th of July and black pearl (cherry) indeterminates. I have square tomatoe trellises which are only 4 feet high so I'm in the same boat as you. I'll probably have to trim up by season's end.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 8:35AM
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maozamom NE Ohio

From a design sense, 9' would be about the perfect height for a 14.5' wide garden.

9 x the golden ratio = 14.5623059

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 3:54PM
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ali-b

What a great observation! You can't argue with the aesthetics created by the golden ratio (1:1.618).

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 9:23PM
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chickadeemelrose(5)

With regard to the golden ratio - I just put in tomatoes here, in two rows of three each 2/12 feet apart, with two stakes criss-crossed next to each pair, for staking later. (There is a stake across all three pairs of stakes, tied to them, for stability.) The bed is 8 feet long.

Without realizing it I put in the stakes so they would be close to 5 feet tall in the raised bed (almost exactly the golden ratio), and I love the way they look. Accidental on my part, but I really like it.

I am going to remember that guideline in the future. Thanks for sharing it. :)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:13AM
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chickadeemelrose(5)

With regard to the golden ratio - I just put in tomatoes here, in two rows of three each 2/12 feet apart, with two stakes criss-crossed next to each pair, for staking later. (There is a stake across all three pairs of stakes, tied to them, for stability.) The bed is 8 feet long.

Without realizing it I put in the stakes so they would be close to 5 feet tall in the raised bed (almost exactly the golden ratio), and I love the way they look. Accidental on my part, but I really like it.

I am going to remember that guideline in the future. Thanks for sharing it. :)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:35AM
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gwenb(7 WA)

So do you go by overall garden size or the size of the bed with the obelisk in it?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 2:47PM
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maozamom NE Ohio

If you wanted to take it further, your beds inside the garden could be 5.5', and the garden could be either 14.5' or 23.5' long.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 10:37PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

Based on this interesting and helpful feedback, I just splurged and ordered obelisks. I ordered two 8' obelisks (one each for the furthest northern locations in the two northern beds). I also ordered 4 (!) 7' obelisks. I am going to try tomatoes cheek-by-jowl a la square foot gardening. I plan three obelisks each in the northern beds, oriented north to south in the center of each bed with the 8 footers in the back. I hope it works. I guess the theory is more production per square foot rather than maximizing production per plant. Considering that I want more varieties, this seems like something worth trying for me. We'll see! There's always next year. LOL.

If anyone is in the market for obelisks, I found a great coupon code for 30% off at well-known catalog company (P&H). I bit the bullet and considered this a one-time investment that will give me lots of flexibility in the future, too. Gotta love being a single woman sometimes. No one to second guess my splurges! LOL. Can't exactly hide obelisks like you can expensive shoes. Ha ha. Of course, all six obelisks cost less than one pair of Manolo Blahniks--how's that for justification?

Lisa

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 10:45AM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

By the way, I don't own any Manolo Blahniks. I'm a garden-ista, not a fashionista. LOL.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 11:04AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

You're definitely a gardenista, lol! Those are gonna be some pricey tomatoes! Did you buy the Classic obelisks? I have one of the 8 footers I use for flowering vines. It's very sturdy. Where did you find the 30% off coupon?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 5:54PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Lisa, never mind ... found it. Bought a few things myself. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 6:33PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

Glad you found the coupon, natal! Yes, they are the classic obelisks in bronze.

The obelisks arrived yesterday morning. I was surprised to see them so quickly. UPS guy didn't look happy, especially because he had delivered a heavy wooden door to me the day before. I also hadn't thought about the assembly required--LOL. In retrospect that seems silly--what did I expect six big 7-8 foot packages? I have four of six assembled (it actually only takes about 10-15 minutes per obelisk and is very easy).

So far, I am very pleased but do need to figure out how to secure them in the garden. Any ideas? I am afraid a strong wind will knock them and my precious tomatoes to the ground. I've seen mentions of staking obelisks but don't really know what that entails.

Thanks in advance if anyone can help,

Lisa

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 8:00AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Lisa, the 8-footer I have has never budged ... not even during Hurricane Gustav. Wonder how much lighter the smaller obelisks are? Hmmm. Guess I'll find out.

I have a different obelisk in the kitchen garden that I stake with a few of these ...

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 11:03AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Lisa, sorry about that. I just checked the P&H obelisk and realized those stakes won't work. The other one I have sits on a flat base with no legs going into the ground, so it's easy to stake.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 11:10AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Lisa, did you ever figure out what to use for stakes? I still think it might not be necessary. I got 2 of the 5' obelisks. They seem just as sturdy as the 8 footer.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 6:16PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

You know, I think they seem awfully sturdy, too. So far I haven't felt a sense of urgency to stake them. I might end up regretting it, but so far none of them have budged in a few windy storms. It has occurred to me to tie them to each other since they are all in a row, but I don't know if that will help or hurt? Glad the 5' obelisks are nice, too.

Lisa

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 8:53PM
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