Tomato plant are actually sprawling vines, but training the vines to grow upright aids optimal garden production. There are a variety of supports you can make for your tomato plants, using low-cost supplies and with a minimal amount of skill. Supporting the plant keep the fruit and leaves off the ground, helping prevent diseases and insect infestation in the plants. It also makes harvest simpler as the fruits are easy to access on upright vines.
Push a 6-foot tall stake 1 foot into the ground behind the tomato plant at the time of planting. Make stakes from 2-by-2 lengths of wood or use straight branches cut to length.
Tie the main stem of the tomato plant to the stake every 6 to 8 inches as it grows. Use cloth plant ties and tie them loosely around the stem and the stake. Wrap the tie around the stem, then cross the ends of the tie between the stem and stake. Wrap the ends around the stake and tie, leaving the crossed section of cloth between the plant and stake to cushion it.
Prune off secondary vines as they form between the leaf stem and the main vine of the plant. This keeps the tomato plant to one stem, which is preferable for stake-trained tomatoes.
Install a 6-foot tall stake or fence post at either end of the row of tomato plants. Drive the stake 1 foot into the ground so it doesn't fall over.
Wrap a length of wire around one of the stakes, 8 inches up from the ground. Stretch the wire to the opposite stake, pulling it taut, then twist it around the stake to secure. Repeat with a second wire but stretch this wire along the other side of the tomato plants. Pull the tomato branches and fruit over the top of the wire on either side to support them.
Add an additional wire to each side of the tomato plant each time it grows 6 to 8 inches taller. Continue to add wires and pull the branches over the wire for support until you reach the top of the stake.
Cut a 9-foot length from a roll of chicken wire or concrete-reinforcing mesh, using wire snips. Use mesh that has 3- to 4-inch openings in the mesh.
Roll the fencing into a cylinder, overlapping the ends by 2 to 3 inches. Attach the ends together by twisting wire around them every 6 inches.
Set the cage over the top of the young tomato plant. Drive a 1-foot wooden stake into the ground at the base of the cage on two sides opposite each other.
Wrap a length of wire or twine around each stake and the cage, securing the cage to the stakes. This prevents the cage from blowing or falling over.
Pull the vines of the tomato plant through the wire mesh as the plant grows. Reach through the mesh to harvest the fruit inside.
Things You Will Need
- 2-by-2 planks
- Plant ties
- Chicken wire
- Stakes should be driven in at the time of planting; otherwise, they may damage the plant's roots.
- Nylon garden twine can be substituted for wire in most cases.
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