Since we use lots and lots of tomatoes, it means we must also grow lots and lots of tomatoes. Growing so many tomato plants, we have always been presented with the problem of what to use for cages or trellises. You see, tomato plants can grow to be quite large and heavy, which means that if you have no support for your plants, the fruits will wind up developing on the ground--leading to rotting, slug infested tomatoes! There is nothing more disappointing than having to throw away half of your tomato harvest because pests got to them.
Tomato plants that are kept up off the ground typically have better yields, less instance of disease and pest infestation, and are easier to harvest, so we definitely want to use some kind of cage or trellis on our tomato plants, but the problem that we have always faced is cost. We are a frugal family...okay, we're cheap. We needed something that can be reused year after year, is easy to set up, and has a minimal cost.
Besides the money factor, we haven't been pleased with the quality of commercially made products recently--they seem flimsy, prone to breakage, and are not long-lasting or durable. Yes, you can buy a tomato cage at a big-box store for around $2.50 a piece, but if you need 48 of them, that still comes to $120 dollars. Now, I would almost say the cost would be worth it if you could reuse them year after year, but these trellises likely will not last you that long. They will get rusty and bent, and will need to be replaced frequently. In addition, these cages are generally rather flimsy, and will not stay standing on windy days.
So, my crafty husband did some research, and finally came up with a plan:
|A head-on view of the trellises.|
He pounded a post into the ground at each end of a row of tomatoes. The posts are anchored on one side:
|I think those black things on the twine are called turnbuckles. They allow you to adjust the tension of the twine or something. I'm only guessing here.|
A loop of twine spanning the length of the row is wrapped around each post. The twine loop is help apart by wooden spacers:
|I don't know how I managed to take a picture of my foot.|
You can go up higher than two levels of twine if needed--I think that was just kind of a starting point. I'm sure the tomatoes will get taller than that.
|The twine will support the tomato plants, keeping the fruit off the ground.|
I was very impressed with the trellises my husband built--but I'm impressed by all the things he builds, he's such a handy guy! You can see a couple wider shots of our garden here (and see some of the other trellises he has built in the past:
|Can you find my cat?|
|My husband builds lots of cool stuff.|