Frugal tomato supports

HotHabaneroLady(7a Central MD)March 17, 2014

I'm growing a major expansion of my tomatoes this year. I'm planning to grow nearly 50 plants. All of them will be long, indeterminate vines. I prefer staking or trellising them, but I am finding that supports are getting awfully expensive for so many tomatoes. $5 for a tomato stake is one thing when you're growing ten plants, but quite another for 50. Can anyone suggest a more economical support?

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    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:37PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

If you are growing them in rows, look into WEAVING and stringing, both here in GW and YouTube.

Stakes, if you buy them individually, sold as "STAKE" can be expensive.
I buy 5/4" by 4" cedar boards and rip them and make my own stakes.
For example: buy a 10ft length (Cost ~~$6) and cut it into 2 pieces, 5ft each in the store,. Bring it home and rip it. I make 4 pieces of 5ft stakes, each costing $1.50. If You want 6ft long stakes, buy the 12ft long one and do as above. In that case each 6ft stake will cost about 2 bucks each. Another option is 5/8" REBAR. That will cost a little more but will last for ever. PVC is another option but it is not strong, you cannot drive it into ground easily, and it will deteriorate under sun and may bend or brake under weight and by winds. A 10' length of 1" diameter will cost more than cedar (as I described before). Any size less than 1" will be TOO weak.

So, there are options, method wise and cost wise.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:39PM
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zzeasy(z6 PA)

Metal conduit is cheaper and easier to cut than rebar. A 10' length is about $2.xx at any big box store- you can cut to length with a tubing cutter. I use them as stakes to hold my tomato cages but you could probably use them as actual tomato stakes as well.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:53PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

zzeasy, Yes. But it has to be at least 3/4". One inch size would be perfect. I think 3/4" (10' length) costs MORE than $2.xx. Maybe close to 4 bucks with tax. But still, I agree, it is a good deal.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree that using one of the forms of Florida weave support would be the most economical by far. Some stakes and lots of string is all you need.

Cattle panel trellises would be my second choice. They average $20 for a 16' long panel and if you stagger plant the plants and use both sides of one panel and do some pruning you might get 16-18 plants on one panel (depending on the varieties and types). Not ideal plant spacing but fairly good.

Hauling them home is the problem with them but once you get them they last forever.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:32PM
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6ft oak stakes pre sharpened at Southern States of Huntington, W.Va are twelve dollars a doz. Good value but fair amt of work involved.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 5:16PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Bigpinks, ... that is a good deal. But oak will rot. Especially the part that is driven in the ground. But still, a buck a piece it sounds a good deal to me.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 10:59PM
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