Growing Tomatoes on Trellises

by Emily Moore


Growing tomatoes on trellises are basically a combination of twines and stakes used to support tomatoes in a garden, and you use them mostly to maximize pest control. Of course, it's not always the best solution, and there are some pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Minimizes incidences of soil pests and diseases.
  • Increases the lifespan of the crop.
  • Boosts yield, both by quality and quantity.
  • Clean fruits all season round.
  • Trellising raises the stems above ground and maintains them a certain distance from each other, this allows for air and sunlight penetration.

Cons:

  • For temporary trellises, you will need to set up a new set every season.
  • Permanent trellises requires a lot of labor and can be pricey.
  • Trellis limits movement across rows when carrying out maintenance and cultural practices.


How it's Done


Growing Tomatoes on a Trellis starts by first choosing the type of tomatoes to grow. There are generally two varieties of tomatoes; the determinate and indeterminate varieties. Determinate varieties have relatively short stems and stop growing when they reach a certain height. Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, have very long stems and grow continuously until the end of their yielding life.

While indeterminate varieties are the most trellised, any tomato variety that grows over one foot above the ground can (and probably should) be trellised.

Lots of gardeners like to use wood as stakes to build tomato trellises, but metal and plastic stakes are also common. The stakes can be 5 to 8 feet tall, and for the twine, you can use jute, sisal, nylon or wire twines, which can all be bought in a hardware store.

To lay out the trellis, first, sink the poles into the ground along the marked rows about 8 to 10 feet apart; make sure they are properly anchored. Tie or staple three round of the trellis wire/string on the poles running along the rows; about one foot from the ground and about 12 inches apart.

An alternative to growing tomatoes on trellises is to grow them in a tomato cage. you have lots of the same benefits that you would  with a trellis (growing vertically), but you get a few other bonuses:

  • Tomatoes growing in cages are typically surrounded by more leaves and vines, which can protect them from harsher sunlight;
  • You can wrap greenhouse plastic around them, making it easier to grow tomatoes in colder climates;
  • Because caged tomatoes provide more shade for the soil, it will retain moisture more easily.

The drawback of tomato cages are mostly that they aren't as sturdy as trellises and they can be a bit of a pain come harvest time, when you find yourself reaching in the middle of all those vines. They also take up the most square footage.

Whether you're using a trellis or not, it's important to get the basis right, so, for a quick reference, here's a handy visual guide on growing tomatoes.




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