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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Best way to grow tomatoes vertically

Have you ever grown tomato plants that just became a complete mess by the end of the season, where there was far more plant than fruit?  Ever notice that most tomato plants will get 7-10 feet tall, but you can't buy tomato cages that are much more than 5 feet tall?

I've been searching the internet on the best ways to grow my tomatoes vertically without a big mess, and I've decided that this year I'm going to use the "string trellis" method this year for 5 of my 6 tomato varieties.  Why 5 of 6?  Well, 5 of my tomatoes are considered to have "indeterminate growth", which means they will continue to grow and grow until the end of the season.  Most non-bush tomatoes are like this.  The only "determinate growth" tomato I have is a Roma, which will not get more than 6' tall.

Another thing I've never done is prune my tomato plants, and apparently, pruning your tomatoes will allow you to grow them vertically more cleanly and the plants will produce more fruit.  If you don't prune your tomato, it will spend much more energy growing new stems and new foliage, and less energy growing fruits.

Here is a fantastic video from someone on youtube named FrontPorchFarm that makes it really clear on how to properly string trellis and prune - or sucker - your tomatoes:

3 comments:

  1. So how is it going with the strung tomatoes a year later? Last year we had nothing but a mess of tomatoes; they were completely unruly. I watched that same video on you tube and wanted to change my methods. Since I started cutting the suckers right this year I'm noticing an awful lot more blooms. Energy going to fruit instead of growth I'd guess. So I see real promise. I haven't yet strung them. I don't have a green house, just a planter bed. Do you have any suggestions as to how tall to make a structure to string the tomatoes? I have hesitated. I'm worried that I'll create a monstrosity rather than something pleasing to the eye. I want my tomatoes but at the same time don't want an eye sore.

    Thanks,

    Marcello

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  2. I had great success last year. Yes, suckering them properly is VERY important. My early girl and big beef maters got to be about 7' tall and my cherry and grape tomatoes got nearly 10 feet tall!

    Take a look: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-9wd3cDVnXpY/Tgn3d6Q2uoI/AAAAAAAAHk8/_v_JsE3gGwE/s703/SAM_0598.JPG

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  3. I switched from PVC to galvanized fencing poles this year ... you could also use 1" electrical conduit, which is also galvanized. I attached them to 6' T-posts to make them good and sturdy. If I like the location enough, I might just sink some 12' 4x4 posts next year as a more peromanent solution, but at least with the piping I can take it down in the fall and put it back up in the spring when I need it. Here's a picture of this year's structure:

    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-sgusVIKgrLA/T6kOMKQ-MUI/AAAAAAAAJRk/be1dcROfVXA/s883/101_0079.JPG

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