Thursday, June 10, 2010

Caging the Raging Tomato Plant

Growing tomatoes in a small space or raised beds takes some creative thought. To tame tomato plants and make them behave in an orderly fashion is not an easy job but this year I’m determined to be the boss and not let these killer plants run all over me or the garden. First, let me introduce you to my tomato sandwich. This caging system uses two 4’ x 5’ sections of heavy duty hog panel from Tractor Supply Company. I’ve staked them with metal fence posts on each end to hold them in place two feet apart. On the ends I’ve zigzagged garden string and/or wire to form extra support, close up the ends and keep the raging tomato plants trapped inside. Five tomato plants were planted in the 2’ x 4’ space. As they grow I will just train them up and tie them to the hog panel if needed. The large squares make it easy to harvest tomatoes from either side and later for easy storage in the garden shed. Next I decided to reuse some of the TSC products from the winter garden. The same plastic sun fence stakes I used for a mini greenhouse is now transformed into a tomato cage to hold 3 tomato plants. Notice one end is still supporting sugar snap peas which were planted on the trellis made from these same fence products in March. The peas will soon be gone but the pea trellis turns into the end of the tomato cage. I love it when you can use one product for several functions. I recently purchased these square cages from my local Tractor Supply Company. They are a bit flimsy but no more or less then the round cages everyone has for sale. I like the square shape. It fits better in rectangle raised bed boxes. I don’t think it is tall enough and it would be nice if they had another square cage to attach to the top of these to extend their height for the big raging tomato plants. I am interested in seeing how all of these cages work…I’ll keep you posted.
Lastly I have leftover re-bar stakes (from TSC) that I am tying tomatoes to. I placed empty recycled wine bottles to keep birds away and cover the blunt end of the stake. I doubt that these stakes are tall enough but they are much stronger than the wooden stakes I used last year and it is nice to add a little blue color to the garden.

1 comment:

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