overhead cherry tomatoes

growmor(6)April 27, 2014

I want to grow cherry tomatoes as a ceiling/roof/sunshade over my patio. I plan on it being 7 to 9 ft high suspended on heavy wire cattle panels. I want to cover an area 10ft by 24ft. It will be in full sun and grown in containers. My question is what variety would best serve my purpose and how large should the containers be? I want to create a situation like this https://s-media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/3a/46/e1/3a46e1b14f162efc3f9eb83fd26c80aa.jpg

This post was edited by growmor on Sun, Apr 27, 14 at 23:18

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Clickable link:

How do you plan to support the panels?


As far as how many tomato plants: You're in zone 6. How long is your growing season, and how tall do your cherry tomato plants usually get by the end of the season?

With the horizontal cattle panels at a 7-9' height, you're expecting your tomato plants to spend nearly all the growing season just trying to reach the cattle panels. Which would mean that you'd need to grow a plant every several feet in order to cover much of the cattle panels.

Are you planning to emulate the photo to the extent that your plants will not bear any fruit below the level of the cattle panels? If so, you'll have lost the majority of the plants' potential harvest; you won't get ripe fruit until the very end of the season.

The alternative would be to let the plants bear along their entire length, which wouldn't give you the bare trunk of the plant in the photo.

Regardless what you do, you'll need some sort of cages to support the plants until (and probably after) they reach the cattle panels.

Or so it seems to me.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:51PM
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Support is no problem. Apparently what was done in the photo was done and I am going to do likewise if I can find out how.

This post was edited by growmor on Mon, Apr 28, 14 at 0:02

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:58PM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

I think that the picture that you linked to is of the Tomato Tree at Epcot at Disney World.

Here is a link that might be useful: Epcot Tomato Tree

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:06AM
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Thank you Mary for the information.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 12:34PM
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I would say your growing season is not long enough for it to work.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 3:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree that in your zone it just isn't going to work. In the tropics sure but in zone 6 the plant/plants will die long before they get to that size or provide any coverage.

The variety used at Epcot, isn't even a true tomato. It is Solanum betaceum, a small tree or shrub aka Tamarillo and it is many years old.

Other varieties of 'tomato trees' include some 30 varieties of Cyphomandra.


This post was edited by digdirt on Mon, Apr 28, 14 at 17:27

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 4:13PM
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I bet you guys are right but Gordon Graham grew the 28 ft cherry tomato in Oklahoma which is about where I am. I may have to cut my plan down to covering my swing on the patio as I have no experience to work with. If I am still around next year I will start about the first of the year.
Come to think of it I believe his record was 28 ft high and over 53 ft across. That would cover my whole house let alone my patio. I only want to cover 10x24ft.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 5:52PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If you start from seed the first of the year, you'd be on-schedule to plant in the ground at the beginning of March.

So beginning March 1 or so, you'd need to have your plant in its full-size pot, because tomatoes don't like to be moved once they're past seedling stage. (I only grow dwarfs in containers; I disremember how many dozen gallons the pot would need to be to support an indeterminate you're trying to grow to record-setting size. There are 368.8 cubic inches per dry gallon, so once you know how large the pot/box/container needs to be in gallons, you can figure out how many cubic feet it needs to be.)

And on March 1 the pot would either need to be outside in its ultimate location -- surrounded by the equivalent of a heated greenhouse -- or it would need to be indoors in the equivalent of full sunlight, but on wheels so you could move it to its ultimate location once the danger of frost is past.

Regardless whether the plant is outdoors in its heated greenhouse or indoors with the equivalent of full sunlight between March 1 and mid/late May (or whenever frost danger is past in your neck of the woods), you will need to support the vine with the appropriate stakes/cages/etc. If the plant is outdoors during that 2 1/2 months or so, this means a large heated greenhouse structure.

If indoors, it means you have to have stable supports for so much vine (stakes/cages/etc.) -- not easy to do when you can't fasten your supports in the ground; you might want to look into the system rnewste uses for his EarthTainers and/or InTainers (I think that's what he calls the indoor ones; search GW and you'll find his building guides).

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:32PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Gordon Graham grew the 28 ft cherry tomato in Oklahoma which is about where I am

Yes he did. Using several plants started in January and planted in the ground, not in a container, in a specially constructed and heated shelter.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:49PM
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Yeh I know I am a way late but this a first time so it will be a learning process. I am growing Sungold, Sweet Baby Girl, Park's Nectar, Sweet Million in EarthBoxes and a Nappa Grape in a large pot plus a bunch of larger tomatoes. I haven't decided yet what I am going to support the cherries with. Maybe woven wire over my swings or maybe cattle panels for a ceiling of tomatoes. The one I had been looking at was a cherry tree which I don't want but maybe I can do the same thing with multiple EarthBoxes. My goal is to set in my swing and eat tomatoes off the vine and hanging strawberries which I am trying to grow. I already have a container of peas started so we will also need some dip. If I go with the ceiling setup I will have it low enough to reach easily.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:50PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It is quite possible, I think. Find a cherry type that grows long vines. Most cherries do. You can even grow mix color fruiting.

Another thing. Plant them in containers at about chest height level (~4ft from ground). This way you can easily water/maintain them an they will reach the roof much sooner and then continue to run on it.
But one thing to realize that tomatoes are annuals in your zone. You have to start from scratch every year.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:50AM
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I am planting for quality and taste first then growth. I will have 3 boxes with a combination of two in a box. It will be Parks Nectar, Sungold and Sweet Baby Girl. I am considering elevating the boxes. I also have a box with two Sweet Millions and a pot with one Napa Grape. It's too cold to mess around outside right now so will wait a couple of days till it warms up to do some measuring and planning. I've grown tomatoes at various times but never knew much about it except to stick them in the ground.
Several years ago I planted tomatoes in a neighbor ladies garden and kept them well watered and I think she kept them fed. I buried a large fish in between two rows and the tomato plant next to it got over 10 ft tall. All my tomatoes were good but that one was quite a bit taller that the rest. I have no idea what variety they were but not knowing any better I thought that was the norm. I have a picture standing on a step ladder measuring the plant and a picture of her and I holding very large tomatoes. Doing a lot of research on the web. It's a learning process as you have to learn a certain amount so that you can begin to weed out the nonsense. That applies to all subjects. I have also gotten interested in flowers this year and I had some left over Geraniums so I decided I would harvest as many starts from them as possible. 40 so far. I thought it was very easy to start Geraniums but I would check on the web for advice anyway. It was actually comical the advice people were giving. I used a root starter on all clippings and put some in water, some in pots and some stuck in potatoes that I stuck in pots. I ran across a video done by a large production green house where one person might do 4000 plants a day. They simply cut a start, stripped all the leaves but one on top, dipped it in root starter and stuck them in seed starting trays. Nothing serious in my life-just enjoying my last childhood. LOL

This post was edited by growmor on Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 11:44

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:38AM
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