Need ideas for tomato supports

kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)May 22, 2012

I'm about to plant out my tomatoes, and this year I've cleared a big, new portion of my yard to plant a large variety of tomatoes...40 species. I've got the room, but I'd like to see if someone can suggest a way to support them other than the standard 4-sided, collapsible cages that I've used previously. I am going to lay them out in a rectangular grid, maybe 5 X 8, with at least 4-5 feet between plants. I'm open to any ideas, including doing something permanent, like setting 4 X 4 posts in the ground at the ends of the rows and running something between them for supports. Any thoughts? If you can come up with something both practical and esthetically pleasing, and that will allow me to walk along the rows fairly easily, that would be the best. Thanks.

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harveyhorses(7 Midlothian Va)

Do a search for Florida Weave, it is not a hairstyle, and sounds like exactly what you are looking for. I think it is more pleasing to the eye than the dreaded cages, and you can support them as high as your supports go. I am very bad at explaining things, which is why I suggested the search.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 2:53PM
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2ajsmama

Look at Jay's setup - he's even got a video!

Here is a link that might be useful: Jay's weave in high tunnel

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 4:34PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Skyhooks

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 12:48AM
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qaguy

I use 3/4 inch PVC pipe and connectors to make my cages.
They're surprisingly sturdy and hold up to the largest
plants. I keep mine to 6 feet tall because any taller
becomes to difficult to maintain. They stand up to strong
wind too. I know of one guy in Florida who had a tropical
storm come through and my cage design held up the best.

Easy to work with too. And all parts came from the local
big box hardware stores. If I was doing it again though,
I might check out a local irrigation wholesaler too.

When the tomato year's over, they break down very small
since they don't need glueing. I stash mine under the
house in the crawl space. Makes it easier to work the soil
in preparation for planting that way.

Here's what they look like in action

Here's a website with instructions and pictures.
Feel free to contact me through GW or that website.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Matkey tomato cage

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 12:50AM
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harveyhorses(7 Midlothian Va)

I like the PVC cages, but I would worry about driving them in the ground, but I guess if they were in raised bed it would work, except I have hardware cloth in the bottom of mine. I have very 'solid' soil here.
Hmmm. Thinking out loud.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 9:00AM
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qaguy

Hardware cloth? Why? Do you have critters digging in
your garden? I know the feeling. I used to have chicken
wire in my garden to prevent their digging. Found a way
to block entrance into the garden so that problem is over
for me.

Hard dirt? Try this trick for pounding in the stakes. Get
a piece of pipe and a cap that will fit over the uprights.
The slide the pipe over the uprights and pound them in.
Works like a charm. I use an 18" piece of pipe which puts
my 30" uprights 12" into the ground. Never had a problem.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 3:53PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree with Harvey's first post. If you don't want to use cages then Florida weave is your best bet.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 4:25PM
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harveyhorses(7 Midlothian Va)

Florida weave is much less labor intensive. Supports every few plants instead of 4 per plant. It looks really nice too.
Hardware cloth for moles/voles.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 5:46PM
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sandshifter

I pound in 2 feet of a 4 ft piece of rebar. then slip pvc over that to make a stake or whatever.or even 1 1/2 ft of a 3 foot piece.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Trishcuit

Here is a good link for Florida Weave. I believe a bit of judicial pruning will help the system work better too.

Here is one source but the internet has many more.
http://www.wikihow.com/Prune-Tomatoes

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida weave

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:30PM
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junktruck

i went with the woodys folding tomato cage on some of my taller plants this yr and i might do all of them next yr with it

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:39PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I read somewhere, maybe here, that some people are pulling up the politicians election signs after the primaries or whatnot. They use the wire for veggie supports and the signs to line beds! LOL

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 1:22PM
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lorimcp2006

I made one of the 3/4 pvc pipe cages last year, and if you have the time and money to make them they are awesome. I am going to try a couple this year with 1/2" because in zone 5 I don't get he 10' plants some of the other get. However, with 80 plants, I can't really afford to do that for all of them, so I am going it slowly. Also I think DH would kill me if I asked him to cut 80 more of them.
I get 6'0 fence posts, the green ones at Menards, HD etc. I put them in the ground at about 4' apart and hang the green rabbit fence up. Then I tie them to the fence as they grow.
My dad uses the big pieces of cattle fence, I think they are 16' and puts it on 4x4s, but he has more time than I do for his tomatoes. He even built a bending apparatus and made the fence into like an accordian, bending every 2 feet. That works really great also.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 1:44PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Ooooh cool! Zig-zag cattle panel!

I won't ever do it, but it's a lovely idea....

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 3:21PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

I am experimenting with a cage/florida weave hybrid. I ran two rows of cage wire/net (6 in square concrete wire) two feet apart with the tomato plants sandwiched in between.

First I pounded in t-posts about eight feet apart along each of the two rows. Then I attached the wire net to the posts. The plants grow in between the two rows as if in a cage.

So far so good but the season isn't over yet. I like it better than the florida weave because you set it up once at planting time and you don't have to keep updating the system as the plants grow.

I like it better than the cages because it stores easier and you get more plants per foot of cage wire than you do with the round cages.

I used two 25 ft pieces of cage wire in a fifty foot row of plants. The plants are about eighteen inches apart along the row.

I have two rows of plants eight feet apart. Next year I'll probably go to ten or twelve feet between plant rows.

Zeuspaul

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 9:05PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Thanks, everyone, for all the great ideas. I decided to try the Florida Weave and am happy with it so far. I drove t-bar into the ground at the ends of each row, and stretched synthetic baling twine tightly between the pairs of posts; the synthetic twine has not sagged at all. The tomato plants are about 3 feet apart and the line not only does a good job of keeping things upright, but it also allows me to quickly "espalier" the branches to the lines using my Tapener gun.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 9:38PM
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junktruck

looks good kudzu / i like the colorful twine / gotta tell ya wertach thats the best use of a election sign i have ever heard of /hehehe

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 1:16PM
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