How to Grow: Trellising Tomatoes

Learn about the best ways to trellis your tomato plants to keep them off the ground.

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Well, my tomatoes are in the ground and enjoying the warm soil and temperatures. I grow a mix of hybrids and heirlooms and one thing they all have in common is they’re big plants. So, they need to be kept off the ground, because tomatoes flopping on the ground leads to fruit rot, more leaf diseases and a big mess by midsummer.

We all know about staking and caging tomatoes so I won’t belabor those points. Just remember that if you’re staking indeterminate varieties, pinch off the suckers when small so the plant doesn’t overwhelm the stake. Use Velcro plant ties to attach them to the stake. For cages, buy or make 5 to 6 foot tall cages that can support heavy tomato growth. Save the little cages for peppers and eggplants. I even run a stake through the cage to help support it during summer thunderstorms.

Other methods involve strings. For rows of tomatoes, try a stake and weave system. This system is popular with commercial growers especially for determinate varieties such as ‘Celerity’. Pound in stakes after every 2 plants. Starting from one end, weave the string in an “s” shape back and forth around the tomatoes, then around the stakes. Continue down the row. As needed, create a weave every foot up the stake as the tomatoes grow.

Also, try a trellis and string method. Create a tripod at the end of the tomato row with 7 foot tall poles and run another pole horizontally along the top of the tripod. Attach string to the horizontal pole and tie it to individual tomato plants as they grow. Make sure it’s really sturdy for those heavy heirlooms such as ‘Giant Belgium’.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.

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