Stringing vs staking Tomato plants.

seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)May 16, 2013

We are all familiar perhaps with caging, staking and weaving. Now I have seen yet another way; that is STRINGING.

To my understanding this method can be best used when you plant your tomatoes in rows. I have done similar thing for runner beans. But in that case , all I had to do was to drop twines from above. Beans wouldl then get a hold of them and climb up. But with the tomatoes those strings must be sturdy and tied into a rigid structure. I find this method much better than tying to stake and/or cage ribs.

Hs anyone here used this method ?

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It's only my second year growing tomatoes so I'm not a seasoned expert by any means. I love this method because it's more streamlined and clean. You don't get the out of control mess you get in a cage. You can sucker the plants to as many stems as you want (I do 3). Of course the trade off is less production per plant but you can plant a little closer together than with cages.

I use 1/4" twine and wrap it loosely twice around the stem at the dirt line and tied off to a stake. Leave a little slack in the line and wrap the stem around as it grows.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 4:41PM
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This is my first year doing this but I am using a electrical conduit trellis with trellis netting on indeterminate tomatoes. My plants are at least 4ft tall right now and doing great. I use velcro plant ties to tie the stems to the netting as they grow.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 5:05PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

I would have to see pics of this, It just sounds like tying to stakes and people have been using those for years. What does "stringing" mean that is different than tying a plant to a stake using string?

Are you talking about tying it to an overhead structure (as described in the first post) OR a stake, which is described in the second post? Are you both talking about the same thing?

I worked in tobacco as a youth and used an overhead method with the string wrapped around the main stem, and tried this for tomatoes but did not find it worked well. Too many lateral branches. But it doesn't hurt to try out different methods and see what works for you.

This post was edited by sue_ct on Thu, May 16, 13 at 17:59

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 5:46PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Several growers here do it and have posted pics - Tim and Jay both I believe have pics here in several different threads. High tunnel and greenhouse growers often use the method. Most GH supply vendors sell all the clips and various supports needed to make up the system.

Biggest drawback IMO is all the pruning that is required.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of string support systems

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 7:23PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

Yup just like when I worked in tobacco, lol! The problems I had when I tried this included having a support tall enough, like I said above a lot of lateral shoots in all directions, and keeping up with it so you don't risk breaking the plant or knocking off flowers or tomatoes while doing it. I also am somewhat height challanged, so step stools and ladders were involved. :) For me the cages are just more simple. But we all have our favorite and whatever works to get you lots of tomatoes is great! Do most people that use this method prune ot 1 or 2 stems?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:18PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Thanks fellows.

Sue, I have not been usijng this methed. I have only seen few clips on you tube. But the concept is smiple. First you need an overhead support from which you would drop down strings/ twines. Then you would coil that twine around the stem. It looks liks as if a runner bean wraps itself around the twine. All the string does is to hold the balance of the stem.

AS mentioned..each branch has to hang on its own string. So, as Dave said you need to prune a lot in order to have just one main stem..

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:24PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

OK, I do get it, I must not have done it correctly if it works well for others because it didn't for me. I used 8 foot metal fence posts used for chain link fences, one at each end of the row and one across the top in raised beds. I then dropped the string down from the top post and tied it to the main stem of each plant. It was ok, I just had several issues like I mentioned in previous my post. I wasn't sure if we were talking about the same thing. You might just consider the issues I mentioned. I also found I had to be careful not to let it get too tight around the stem. I ended up winding extra string around the top post before starting each string so I could unwrap some additional length if I needed it mid season.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:46PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Some suggest burying the end of the string under the plant rather than tying around the stem. Some suggest the string be tied off to a small stake driven into the ground near the base of the plant. And some set-ups use a horizontal board or pipe parallel to the top support but at ground level just behind the plants to tie the string to.

But yes, most set-ups using string I have seen prune to 1 or 2 stems.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:07PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

I did it for a couple of years when I grew out a lot of crosses I made and didn't have enough stakes. I dropped the lines from electrical conduit pipe held up on stakes at 6.5 ft. If wrapping the line around the plants you need to make sure you have enough line to start with, several extra feet. Tie the line to the pipe with a clove hitch so that you can loosen it for slack when you need to make another wrap around the plant. When the plant gets to the pipe, just flop it over the top.

Cotton clothes line works well. It holds up in the sun. I had sissal bailing twine snap on me one year.

A simple loose bowline knot at the base and several wraps around the plant when it gets tall enough to fall over starts things off. Later you can tie the vines off to the rope if you want, as if you were staking, but wrapping seems sturdier when there is heavy fruit set.

Sturdy stakes are actually easier to use, IMO but lines are not that difficult.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:15PM
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I am doing exactly that this yr. I am following the Mittleider method after doing much research, and so far I see great things going on in the garden. I have always tied to stakes in the past. I hope to get my T-frames up this weekend to hang the strings to support my tomatoes.

Here is a link that might be useful: My blog

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 9:54AM
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I am doing this for the first time as well. So far so good, but the mettle is always tested in Aug/Sept when growth skyrockets. My husband installed two others like this. I still have to transplant a few more. Keep in mind tomatoes still need to spread roots underground even though above ground it looks like there is pace for more plants

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Kalie(9 - Jacksonville, Florida)

The string trellis works really well in Florida. Our summer humidity is coupled with daily afternoon showers, which makes for a less than ideal environment. Being able to spread things out allows for much better airflow. Also it makes pruning and harvesting really easy. This trellis is about 6.5 feet tall and I will either pinch off the plants once they reach the top, or just let the branches spill over towards the end of the season.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 1:51PM
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