Make Your Own Plant Ties

I often laugh at the plant ties that are sold in gardening catalogs. Did you have any idea I was so cruel? Well, it’s true. I laugh because I make own and with just a little effort have more than enough to get me through a season. Since I prune and stake my tomatoes, I go through a lot of plant ties each year. Since I’m cheap, whenever I can make something myself or repurpose something I already have on hand. To make your own plant ties all you need  is a t-shirt that’s destined for the rag bin and a pair of scissors. (Edited to add:) I use 100% cotton shirts so I don’t have to worry about getting every piece during fall cleanup and the ones I miss can go right in the compost.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties

Start by laying the shirt flat and cutting through both layers straight across under the arms.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 2

Fold one side of the resulting tube over to about an inch from the other side. The piece has been rotated in this view. See the hem on the right? Now cut 1” strips from the bottom edge up and just through the edge you’ve folded up but not all the way across. If your shirt is really thin you can cut the strips wider for stronger ties.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 3

Here’s more of a close-up. Sorry it’s hard to see the edges with white on white.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 4

Continue cutting the strips all the way down to the hem, which I leave on. Why work more than I have to?

Now comes the tricky clever part.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 5

On the leftmost edge cut an angled cut through only one layer of cloth from the top of your first vertical cut out through the edge of the tube. Then cut through only one layer from the second vertical cut in front to the first cut in back. Repeat these cuts all along the rest of the vertical cuts. When you get to the end you’ll be cutting in from the outside edge of the hem to open the last loop.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 6

Ta daaaaaah! You now have a continuous strip of material. Roll it into the ball and it’s ready to go to the garden.  There. Now you’ve got a little task you can do while you’re waiting for spring.

Since you’ve stuck with reading this all the way to the end, here’s a bonus tip: When I would tie up plants I used to cut off a length of the material first. Invariably it was either too long or too short. Now I keep the ball in a bag or bucket I take to wherever I’m tying up whatever. I just pull out the end of the strip, tie what I’m tying and then cut it.  I know. It’s not rocket science, but when I realized how much more efficient it was I was pretty proud of myself.

What common household items have you found uses for in your kitchen garden?


12 thoughts on “Make Your Own Plant Ties

    1. I used to do the egg carton thing but now we’re actually able to return them to our egg supplier. You have also reminded me of something else I meant to say about the shirts so I’ve added it above.

  1. Francesca Maria

    Here in Trapani I don’t have a garden. But on the balcony I have planted basil, Rosemary and sage. For the first time I even managed to grow coriander. I’m really proud of myself, it’s been years that I have been trying. You are very creative.

  2. Great idea, I’ll give this a go. As to other household items – I use loo-roll middles to plant seeds into, and old plastic milk containers cut in half to make little shelters or mini-cloches for seedlings. Glad to have found your blog!

  3. Pingback: Late June Garden Update | Shady Character

  4. This reminds me of when we were growing up the females in the family were instructed to donate used pantyhose for gardening. They made great ties because they were so soft and stretchy. Now, like you, I use recycled cloth most of the time.

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