Last year my indeterminate tomatoes outgrew the 8’ stakes I had them planted against, they ended up falling over. So, this year I’d like to try stringing them up.
I’d looking for a simple, DIY string trellis design that doesn’t involve a lot of cutting and drilling and is inexpensive. I own a drill but I’m not a skilled woodworker and I don’t have access to a truck.
I’m looking for a creative solution for a 2’ x 14’ bed. Here’s what I found so far (see links below). Just wondering what you guys think (pros and cons of each idea) and if anyone has a better idea:
I use 3/4" PVC pipe. I use four 10’ pipes and trim them down to about 6’ as it’s easier to work with. You can go higher. I use the 3-way elbow connectors to built a box for strength (I had to get a bit creative with adapters as one of the connectors was only 1/2".) I do not glue anything either (occasionally have to push a pipe back together, but it’s surprisingly sturdy.) Tie a string from the crossbeam, run it to the ground and tie a rock to the bottom. As the tomato grows, I wind the string around the vine. If the tomato puts out a shoot that I want to keep, I tie another string to the crossbeam and run it down. By the end of the season the vines have crawled up and over the frame and I eventually lose control. However it’s a cheap and easy solution, breaks down at the end of the year, and the basic frame is reusable.
Along the frame of my raised veggie bed, I took 4 1" PVC pipe, cut it to the height of my bed, took a a pipe strap and screwed it down. Only drilling required and it didn’t tax my Craftsman portable drill.
This is not the most elegant or prettiest solution, but I’m not trying to win the annual Home & Garden prize either.
Here’s a picture of the base of the frame. Tomorrow I’ll get a picture of the top.
Here you go! So I basically made a box, placing the base in the 1" pvc pipe secured to the planter boards with the pipe straps. At the corners I used a 3 way elbow. As one connecter was 1/2 threaded, I had to make an adapter to get back to 3/4" size.
I have access to lots of bamboo so I made bamboo tripods 9’ apart and cross beam 7’ hi.
I plan on running nylon string from cross beam to ground and use tomato clips to anchor and guide indeterminate tomatoes.
My concern- will tomatoes hold up under wind conditions with only being attached to string? I’ll also train tomatoes up each leg of tripod
String works fine, but just make sure it is something strong and avoid anything that might break down (either rotting or from UV) and weaken. I tried jute twine the first year and had to replace them all a few months in when I found one tomato plant on the ground and realized the other strings were about to go. I use those clips, but generally only need a couple per plant, since I twist the vines around the string and the leave stems keep them from unwinding. So I basically just twist around when I’m taking out suckers once or twice a week.
I think your biggest concern will be keeping the whole thing from blowing over. I did tall bamboo teepees for beans once and the wind kept blowing them over. Your trellis, once the tomatoes grow up, will be like a giant sail. I would do one of the following:
Tie some lines from the top out to some stakes as support (like a tent).
Put cinder blocks or something else heavy at the base of the teepee leggs and tie them off to them.
Get a few short t-post or u-post and drive them in next to a few of the legs (maybe even all three) and tie the legs off to that. I did this for a large trellis I made with bamboo and nylon mesh for growing bitter melon and it held it great.
Anyway, just some thoughts based on how it has gone for me in my garden. I think you’ll really enjoy growing them up this compared to caging. My trellis are about this tall and when the go over the top I just let them flop over and bush out a bit after keeping them single stem all season. But you can also do the lean and lower technique, but you’ll need to plan for that with how you set up your strings.
They do make jute with a wire core, kind of the best of both worlds. For a tomato trellis I use 12-14 ga vineyard style wire from Tractor Supply (soft, not high tensile)-- run a low wire and high wire horizontally then use the jute wire for the vertical runs with tomato clips.