how big do indeterminets get? need trellis ideas

daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)April 13, 2009

Hi, I realize this is a very broad question, I really would like to know if a 4ft high trelliss will be tall enough. I know that in some places tomatoes can get 10' tall and they normally get 6'-8' tall. I live in SE NY and my garden only gets about 5 hours and 50 minuets of sun Could I get by with a 4ft tall trellis?

Does any one know of a way I could make say a 3ft tall structure that the tomatoes could grow up through and then lie flat on the top?

any structure must be fairly small no longer then 3ft and no wider then 2ft.

Please any ideas?

I have done a search both here and on google and I read many (not all) of the threads. however everyones supportt system seems to be much bigger then 4ft and I really an't build anything taller then taht for various reasons. I know I should of only got deteminet varieties but until somebody can make determinet Brandywine NAR Kellogg's breakfast Japaneese black triefle Matina jetstar and a few others I'm stuck growing indeterminets on na 4 ft support. sprawling won't work either If I let that happen I could only fit 4 tomatoes and nothing else.

Thank you for any help!

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I am no expert but I noticed when my dad planted indeterminites in an area that did not get as much sun that the plants got much taller than mine in full sun, I suppose they were reaching up to get more sun. I don't see why you couldnt use a four foot trellis and prune them or train them to grow the way you want or maybe try the upside down planting method (I have never tried it but I have seen people get it to work using a 5 gallon bucket.)Wish I had some better ideas for you, Good Luck.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 12:25PM
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Low sunlight can cause the plants to be more "leggy" and therefore taller. 4 feet will not be adequate for about 50% of the heirlooms and open-pollinated varieties. However, if you specialize in the dwarf and determinate varieties, 4 feet will be just fine.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 4:42PM
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4ft is unlikely to be tall enough to support the entire plant, but it isn't necessarily wrong or bad to let the growth above the trellis do it's own thing and just sort of hang there.

The growth of an indeterminate isn't completely determined by it's genes, but the growing season. An indeterminate grows, sets fruit and continues to grow while it sets fruit. In a climate ideal for tomatos that has a long growing season true monster plants can be produced.

Take that same plant and grow it in a cooler, shorter season area and it gets nowhere near as tall even though it is healthy.

So, you kind of have to give it a try and see how it goes for you. In my garden most indeterminate plants get 5-6 ft tall. I have seen others with longer seasons end up growing the same varieties I am with 10ft tall plants.

A 4' trellis for a 5' plant is fine. A 4' trellis for a 10' plant is going to be a problem ;)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 4:47PM
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You could rig up a tripod type of structure over the plant, and tie the suckers up to that, then let them flop over and grow back down. For the tripod, you could use either scrounged natural wood saplings if you have access to such for an old English garden type of look, or buy wood stakes at your lumberyard or Home Depot type store. You might need to wire or tie each leg of the tripod to a stake in the ground to make sure they wouldn't fall over in a heavy wind and rain. If your height restriction is because of aesthetics, you could also paint the wood dark green to blend into the surroundings better.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 7:28PM
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A tripod or ladder support would work to support plants but why not go one step further and use a dropped stringline as the support so that you can lower the plant to a reachable working height as it grows. A single beam accross the top could be used to provide the support provided that it is strong enough.

I know from experience that many of my cherry and grape varieties can grow to 20' so I wrap an extra 10' of twine onto those variety's tomahooks that I use to support high tunnel tomatoes. As the plants get out of reach I lower the plants and ....well I still had to use a ladder last November when I ran out of string. It is hard to imagine how tall some plants will grow. But for most indt plants I still lower 2-3' at least once during the season to be able to reach fruits as the ripen.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 10:31PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If 4 feet is your limit them 4 feet it will be. Apparently you have no choice.

As mentioned - not ideal except for determinates - but just let the rest drape back down the support as the rest of us do. Most of my CRW cages are only a little more than 5 feet and the tallest I have are 6' and the plants are a lot taller than that.

Just means you need wider plant spacing so there is room for them to drape from fruit weight.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 10:50PM
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Just like you mentioned, indeterminate types can grow up to Ten feet in ideal conditions.

We grow Early Girl (variety) in Zone 7, in a partly sunny spot. Within the first few months, it will overflow the 6ft tomato cage. Please see the picture below.

You can make your own tomato cage using concrete wire mesh. Just buy a roll with 6ft height and cut it into half. Then make a roll out of it. You can read more about making your own tomato cage in our blog

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:07PM
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In Sacramento, which is tomato heaven.. my plants (all indeterminent) grew to amazing height/length. They were in 6' cages & were easily 10-12ft in height. I had to put the tops back into the cage for support.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:34PM
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You can make your own tomato cage using concrete wire mesh.

How much does that Concrete wire mesh cost? Where do you buy it? I found some Wire mesh like that but it was Galvanized and expensive. Like $40 per roll. I'm trying to be frugal as possible here I've already spent hundreds on this...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:41AM
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jwstell42(5 NY)

$40 per roll is pretty cheap if you think about it!

If it's a 50 foot roll, that will make 9 cages or so depending on how big a diameter you make it.

So about $4.50 per cage, for a cage that will last 10, 15 years or more :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 10:36AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

lazyhat - You don't need the galvanized stuff unless you want to spend the extra $$. Plain concrete reinforcing wire - CRW - is what is normally used and can be found at most any hardware store or lumber yard or big box store like Lowes and Home Depot. It has 4x4 inch openings.

There are hundreds of discussions here on how to make the CRW cages - many with photos and how-to directions in them that a search will pull up for you if interested in details.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:05AM
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You mention that you cannot use tall supports. Perhaps the following easy method which I have been trialing with success might be worth considering. For each tomato plant purchase 2 ten foot lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe available at plumbing section of box stores. Now form two hoops next to each other with these, spaced 8" apart, planting ends firmly in ground. Position one tomato plant at bottom of a hoop so that it will grow toward the sun. As it grows weave the new growth between and around the two hoops, securing branches with single-wrap velcro as needed. The velcro is also available at box stores. Beneath the hoops you will still have some growing space for crops such as herbs and lettuce. The whole set-up is sturdy and attractive. I take the time to quickly paint each pipe with dark green acrylic paint so the white piping does not stand out in color. Easy to take apart and store. The pipes will last for many, many years. Sorry, I do not post pictures on GW, but hopefully you can follow my directions.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:09PM
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Sorry, I do not post pictures on GW,

Just curious,but why not?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:43PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Picture links can be copied and by changing a letter or # or two in that link you can view other pictures that person has posted to the same site.

There are many reasons why a person would not want you to see their other pics but then again there is more than one hosting site that can be used.

Whatever the reason it's really NOYB.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:29PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Gosh, with the thousands of garden pictures posted here on GardenWeb, none of us knew we were taking such risks! Who knew?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:58PM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

hi, thanks for all of your replies, I like the hoop Idea but since I have 11' bamboo stalks I think I'm going to cut them down to 4.5' each and then use those as my posts to hold up a trellis I also Thing I will get shorte pieces of bamboo an make a sort of grid half way up the trelis that the plants can grow through.

If you want to post pictures with out anybody seeing other photos of yours than you can use you can upload a photo up to 1.5 mb and get the lik for a websites paste it toyour post and then close the image hosting site and nobody sees any other photos you've uploded. you do not create an account so there are no stored photos for them to see.

thanks agian

Here is a link that might be useful: Image hosting website

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 8:24AM
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