I've made a dumb mistake-help!

st2826April 29, 2012

Being the dumb novice i am i bought what i thought were cherry toms good for hanging baskets turns out i bought ones that need upright support.....at least 6ft of it!!!!!!!!

I need some ideas of how to support them on the cheap, we thought up against the house wall but then they'd have to go into pots (will have to buy some and more compost) we've got a couple of narrow -ish beds but not sure what to use as supports for the heights.

I like the tomato spirals but haven't seen them or the cages for sale here and doubt i could get them through the post, so homemade is the way to go-any ideas?

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I'm a novice too, and although I don't have an answer to your main question, I do have a comment about your soil.

I read this forum quite often, and everyone that I can remember has said that in pots you need to have a soil-less mix. If you do a normal blend of soil it can retain too much moisture, which can lead to problems like drowning the plant, more chance for disease I believe, etc. I just figured to mention because, being a fellow novice, I know I'd hate to make a mistake that'd kill my plants I was looking forward to eating from. ;)


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 11:19AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If you use the narrow beds rather than pots - and that would be recommended - then there are all sorts of supports for tomato plants, both home made and sold in stores.

One of the least expensive (but least effective) would be a 6' wooden stake driven into the ground and tie the plant to it. Better yet use 3 or 4 stakes around it and wrap with string to make a cage. Then there is the 3 stake tepee support. You can buy one of the tall heavy duty tomato cages (4) ring) for about $6 and combine it with a stake. Those are just a few of the options available. Google tomato plant support/images for hundreds of pics of different all kinds of supports.

If you choose to use a container then it will have to be 10 gallons plus and filled with a soil-less potting mix. That is a more expensive approach.

Or you can pitch this plant and buy an actual hanging basket plant.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:09PM
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One other comment now that I read your post again. I too thought the spiral supports were a neat and space saving idea. Though the price was a little higher than I liked, I thought they'd look cool and would work perfectly with the space I had for the toms. But then I read somewhere, I BELIEVE it was a college that tested something like eight different methods, that the spiral way works the best with toms trimmed to one main stem. Since I'm new to all this, I was a little nervous of the idea of having to trim my plants, by what I've read on here, often enough to get this to work. Also, I just checked, and found a website that did something similar to the test I just explained.


This was really a helpful link to me because not only does it open your mind up to methods you may not have seen before, but it also lists the pros and cons of each they found when testing! :D

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 4:58PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Clickable link to Angela's tomato-support test site:

Great link, Angela ... except *sniff* they forgot the stock-panels-on-T-posts method -- rustproof and no conduit needed to support the top. Mine start about 16" off the ground, so they're just the right height for a short person to reach the tops. I leave them in place permanently.

I never heard of the metal spiral. I've seen a flimsy plastic spiral, but was never tempted.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 1:47AM
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I finally found CRW (remesh), was going to make the round cages but saw the conduit method on the mastergardeners link above. That certainly would save on the amount of remesh ($107 for 150ft) needed, though I have to see how much conduit costs. I imagine T-post is the same (though Tposts are generally more expensive than EMT, and shorter). I am interested in that method (even if T posts are more $) since I really can't transport 10ft EMT in my short-bed pickup LOL. Plus it may even out if no conduit is required for the top. How do you hang the panel? Could you use remesh (10 gauge) instead of stock panels? Would this work just to run a fence along the outside of the beds/garden area and plant the tomatoes (cukes, melons) on the outside (not the south) and shorter (and maybe plants that need shade) on the inside?

I'd appreciate it if missingtheobvious could show a picture, post a link, or give more details. Thanks

Thanks to angela too for posting the mastergardener link. I'm still looking for the best way to support tomatoes - I've tried the flimsy tomato cages, stakes, trellising with the single line and pruning, and Florida weave and they were all a mess by the end of the season (or just weren't productive - pruning too much).

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 7:00AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Oh, ajsmama, I'm afraid I was responding more to Angela's link than to your situation. I think my trellis is probably too large for your needs. And sorry again: I can't post photos ... but I am a librarian and I have links!

Stock panels (aka cattle panels and hog panels) are 16' long and 50" high; my neighbor's son got them in his pick-up (if he bent them, they definitely straightened out once they were out of the pick-up). If you have an appropriate cutting tool, you could cut them to a smaller size (for instance, you could cut them in half and have two 8' tall x 50" wide pieces for tall tomatoes).

Although the stock panels in my trellis stick up nearly a foot above the top of the 6' T-posts, they're stiff enough that they don't bend where they're taller than the T-posts. The ones I have are heavy-weight and were on sale. The posts are placed every 8'; the panels are fastened to each post with two twists of wire. Where the panels join, they overlap by a few inches; each twist of wire both fastens the two panels together and secures them to the T-post.

Because my trellis begins about 16" off the ground, I may have to use twine to persuade young tomatoes to grow up toward the trellis (and with cucumbers and the small gourds I grow, I end up tying almost all of them). I do prune the tomatoes a bit. I also spend a lot of time weaving them in and out of the holes in the trellis. I use the round trellis clips where necessary to keep them in place. Johnny's are cheap, but I haven't used them; Abundant Life's are expensive but the best I've seen.
Do not buy the green clips from Gardener's Supply -- they come loose by themselves!

Some people use stock panels horizontally to make the roof of an arbor. Some people slant them (one long side on the ground, the other side held up by stakes) and grow cucumbers or beans, which hang down and can be picked from underneath. They can also be bent in a U-shape to make a walk-though arch.

Stock panel:

Tomato trellis: this one is directly in the ground. (They use more T-posts than mine have; perhaps their rows are shorter.)

This blog entry and its wonderful comments discuss some different ways to make a trellis, plus all sorts of uses for stock panels. (Either this trellis or something almost identical was originally posted on GW some years back.)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 2:03PM
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Thanks for putting the link up so people could click on it! :) I didn't know if I could just put the HTML to create links in the message box or if it wouldn't read it. About your way of supporting tomatoes. It took me reading all the posts after yours and yours over again to finally picture in my mind what your supports look like. LoL Sometimes on these boards I hear people that support their plants in such different ways...I myself this year am gonna do our whole back fence, which is chain link, in tomatoes. Haha! I was gonna put them in the raised beds, but then was getting overwhelmed trying to think of how to support all the tomato plants I was gonna plant. Then, after talking to my husband, he went for my idea that I thought was gonna be a quick no! ;)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:48AM
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Thanks MTO - I know you were responding to angela, just wanted to know how to support w/o the conduit on top. The rolls of remesh fit in my short-bed pickup so that's what I'm using (though maybe not all, if I don't bend them into cages) - I've been thinking about cattle or hog panel for the past year but it's just too hard to transport and is almost twice the $ per linear ft ($21 for 16 ft vs $107 for 150ft) - not to mention a ft shorter (basically 4ft instead of 5ft). Just looking for the least $ way to support it, cages supposedly can stand on their own (maybe wired together - it's windy here), but use more material, so I was thinking rebar every 10 ft to support a fence made out of the roll? Would be less $ than T posts, IF I buy 10ft rebar and cut each one in half in the parking lot LOL. I just have to bring the mesh all the way to the ground, or put something (bird netting? Poultry wire?) under it to keep out the wild turkeys, of course that adds to the cost.

This has gotten OT, the OP doesn't need this big a system for her cherry tomatoes, maybe we should have been posting on the Cage or FL Weave thread! Then Jay has good explanation of his system on the High Tunnel thread too. I just don't know if 2x4s would last long exposed to the weather, T posts would be better (rebar wouldn't work in the FL weave).

Thanks for the links and the pointers about the clips - I'll probably just use baling twine.

Getting back to Dave's recommendation - what IS a good variety for hanging baskets?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:37AM
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To cut the panels or CRW, try a disk grinder. So much easier than using a bolt cutter or wire cutters!
I like using the CRW, cut into 8 foot panels, on t-posts, as a trellis. I can then use it for other crops, like beans or cucumbers/squash, in other seasons.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:08AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Getting back to Dave's recommendation - what IS a good variety for hanging baskets?

Several varieties are sold just for that purpose. Tumbling Tom is a common one usually available at transplants. From seed Micro Tom, Red Robin, Tint Tim, Totem, Cherry Cascade, etc.

And CRW cages have to be staked. No one will claim they will stand on their own once they are full of a plant wind or no wind.

As to all the other stuff, anything can be cut to fit for hauling but all that needs to be in a thread of their own and there are many of them here about it.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Thanks Dave - cutting it kind of defeats the purpose if you have to cut it to fit in a pickup bed and you're trying to maximize the distance between posts, you'd also have to cut it in the parking lot which is a pain. I did see some Youtube videos that claimed the CRW cages could stand on their own with just the 6" "legs" made by cutting off the bottom horizontal wire. I don't know if I'd trust those alone in our sandy soil and high winds though. Maybe 12" legs...

I don't want ot bring this thread even more OT, but there are just SO many designs/videos out there it's hard to decide what's best.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:20AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

cutting it kind of defeats the purpose if you have to cut it to fit in a pickup bed and you're trying to maximize the distance between posts, you'd also have to cut it in the parking lot which is a pain.

Not at all. Most stores will cut for you free of charge and for 49 cents you buy a conduit joint to lock the 2 pieces back together when you get home.

There is always a way to make anything work. You just have to explore the many options.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:10AM
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I meant I didn't want to cut the panels that don't bend really well to fit the truck bed, like to leave them longer lengths so don't have to support them every 5 feet to save on cost of posts (plus cutting it in the parking lot would be hard). But the rolls of remesh should work fine and as I said they were less expensive (looks like TSC went up $1 on the panels this year).

Haven't thought of an easy way to cut rebar in a parking lot either (HD won't do it for you - I asked). Of course conduit can be joined if you cut it (it's easy enough to cut, but that they *will* cut for you, they just don't deburr it), and at 5 ft I wouldn't even need to join it to use as fence posts/stakes, but I wasn't thinking of using conduit. I thought it was more $, but if 1/2" or 3/4" is rigid enough to drive into stony ground, it's actually less than rebar - 1" EMT is more expensive than rebar ($7 vs $5 for 10ft).

But it's really time for a separate thread!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:51PM
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I am overwhelmed with weeds growing around my shrubs,so I bought heavy duty plastic and put it around every shrub. My friend said the plastic is not porous and the plants will not get enough water. Did I make a mistake?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 7:41AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Martha welcome to the Garden Web. You will more likely get an answer to your question if you start a new thread. This is the tomato forum. It would be helpful if you would enter your zone and location on your member page. Since I don't know where you live, I am going to suggest the Oklahoma forum. Go to the very bottom of the page where it says Post a message to the forum.

I buy heavy duty landscape cloth that is woven out of plastic. It lets the rain through. In the past I have used plastic with little holes for the rain to penetrate and was not happy with the results. What you did may not be so bad it depends on how water tight your cover is. The rain needs to get to the plants somehow. Others may know more - try the OK forum. You can also search landscape fabric in the search box and see what you get. I tried that and many people hate the landscape fabric I use. I don't cover mine and I move it around in my vegetable garden. It works for me the way I use it. I have not had good results with black plastic - two cons are ants like it because there is moisture either under it or on top and after a number of years it shows through the mulch and the sun breaks it up very ugly little pieces of black plastic looking like trash.

We have all made mistakes. I would not title your post dumb mistake. Think of something that describes your problem.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:00AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Re CRW cages and staking: when I made my cages many years ago the info said to cut the bottom wire and use those as legs to support the cages. I stick the cage in the ground and only once in several years have I had to add a post for extra support. Imagine this might not work in extremely windy areas. Try it and see. You can always add supporting poles or rebar later if needed.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:17PM
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