Trellis Ideas?

MickEmerySeptember 24, 2012

This year was my 1st yr of SFG. I did 18 4'x4' beds. It was a great learning experience and the harvest (still going on) has been great! I've read a bit about trellises on the forum. I used bamboo, from along our creek, set inside 2" PVC pounded 1' into the ground, with 2' exposed. The bamboo got wet & withered. So I scabbed 1" pvc pipe to it & THAT bent over too! My tomatoes, 4 to a trellis, were just too much.

Will 3/4" thin-walled electrical conduit handle 4 tomato plants? I'm trying to keep costs down.

Thanks in advance.


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socal_mtngal(8 san diego 4600ft)

Yes, galvanized electrical conduit is my choice for trellises. We've used the 3/4" o.d. size, and found 10 ft. lengths at Home Depot, CHEAP...for around $2.00 each. Using 1/2" rebar in 3 ft. lengths, drive 18"-24" into the ground, then slide the conduit over. Plastic or metal elbow joints at the top corners allow for a cross bar; no need for glue if you get a size you can twist on. I've used nylon trellis netting with good results. Check out the included photo from earlier in the season.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:44PM
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socal_mtngal(8 san diego 4600ft)

Here's the photo

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:58PM
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Hi Lynn...
Thanks for replying! Nice pic!!!
Have you use conduit for tomatoes as well?
Do you think it would be strong enough for 4 plants?


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:02AM
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socal_mtngal(8 san diego 4600ft)

Hi Mick,
That trellis in the first photo now has some neighbors; just to the left of it I have 6 tomato plants on a trellis of the same conduit, with plastic elbows, and concrete reinforcing mesh that we bent into a zigzag and secured to the conduit with zip ties.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:06PM
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socal_mtngal(8 san diego 4600ft)

And... This trellis is right across the path from the tomatoes and has the nylon mesh with 5-6 spaghetti and butternut squashes hanging nicely with no other support (the rock wall you see is about 4 feet back from the garden fence).

My tomatoes weren't anything to shout about, but I am getting lots of yellow pear tomatoes, which are relatively small vines. I think either type of trellis would be strong enough for tomatoes, but I like the rigid mesh the best, and you can shape it however you want.

By the way, the bird netting you see here is a must due to the amount of wildlife where we live.

Cheers, Lynn

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:17PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

Socal...that's one great looking garden you've got. Mick-the electrical conduit is plenty strong enough to hold 4 tomato plants. I've got pictures of it somewhere on my website. To give you some idea of how strong it is, I think I've got a picture in there somewhere showing 40+ pounds of squash being supported 6 or 7 feet in the air.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:23PM
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SoCal: 4600 ft?? Where are you? Pine Valley? Palomar?

Anywho -- I notice you have squash plants with no powdery mildew whatsoever this time of year. Do you not get it at that altitude? Or what do you use to control it?

My squash and zucchini start off strong but they get nailed by PM when the humid weather hits in the summer.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 12:39AM
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socal_mtngal(8 san diego 4600ft)

Hi Kevin,

We're in the Cuyamaca area, where it is usually drier than "down the hill". My plants are just now getting hit by powdery mildew, and I'm not doing too much about it since the season is about over.

I did spray everything infected with an infusion of nettle tea, which is supposed to be a good fungicide, with some success but probably too late. Since our first snow last year was Nov. 4th, I'll likely cut back most of the bad leaves, and allow the squash and pumpkins to finish ripening. Where are you in zone 10?

Cheers, Lynn

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:59PM
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Hi Lynn :)

Cuyamaca? Nice!

Drier?? It gets hot and humid here in Santee, but I always assumed it was just as humid up in the mountains since that's where all the subtropical moisture settles and builds those thunderheads.

Nettle tea huh? Homemade?

Yeah. I usually do the trim back thing also. Just wish I didn't have to as much. That PM can't be good for photosynthesis.

You'll probably make it a tad longer into the fall -- that cold spell we had early last year was kind of an anomaly.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 1:06PM
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socal_mtngal(8 san diego 4600ft)

Hi Kevin,

Yep, brewed from dried nettles bought at the Julian Farmer's Market.

While generally drier in the summer months, our moisture is quite variable. Along with our elevation, we are right at the nexus between the coastal marine and dry desert air, which explains those dramatic thunderheads east of you, and why our precip can be 3x more than the rest of the county (and with actual seasons).

The nighttime temp for tomorrow is 41 degrees, so I'll be providing cover over my trellises...fall is definitely here!

Cheers, Lynn

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:15PM
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i constructed my trellis out of 2" x 2" and used trellis netting. it is 7' tall and 4'wide. this picture was taken earlier this spring. they held up great! the only issue i had was my tomoato plants that grew 10' tall....

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 9:51AM
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i had to screw in a stake to extend the trellis up to 10' to accomodate the tomato plant.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 10:02AM
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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

Here is a trellis I used for winter squash but now I use it for tomatoes. The link below showes the construction. John

Here is a link that might be useful: Trellis construction

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 2:46PM
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MickEmery a serious trellis!
All the pics posted are nice & give great ideas.
Thanks to all.

I gave my conduit bender to a friend of mine, a few years back. He reminded me that he had it & I'm going to use it to get my 90's at the top. I can then either use a single straight coupling, or simply bind the 2 pieces together.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 3:13PM
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