A New Way to Stake Tomatoes?

I made the title a question because I don’t actually know if this is the original, brilliant, ingenious method I’d like to think it is. In any case, I was thinking about the different ways gardeners keep their tomatoes up off the ground. I found out early on that the little cages are just worthless. I quickly moved on to using individual stakes for each plant, pruning to one or two vines (at least at first) and tying them to the stake. It’s a bit laborious. I was considering moving to training vines up twine to save on the number of stakes I’d have to install but I’d still have to have a support structure that was even sturdier for the twine. Then I had something of a brainstorm. What if I gave each plant it’s own stake and twine? The whole step of knotting and cutting the support ties could be eliminated!

Top of Post

I started with one of the wider stakes I have that was ripped from an old piece of cedar decking. I drilled a hole at the top…

Bottom of Post

…and one at the bottom. I looped a length of heavy, non-stretching cord—clothesline, I think in this case—through the holes and tied snugly to lay flat against each side of the stake.

Starting to Train

When my test subjects were tall enough to start training I just pruned as usual and started to loop them around the cord. At first it was a bit random looking because the plants had leaned away from the stakes and I didn’t want to snap them by forcing them too far. With a cord on each side of the stake I can train two vines from one plant separately.

Totally Twisted

Now that they’re taller and I’ve made a few more turns making sure to hook the leaves around the cord. It looks like it’s actually going to work! I wish I’d done more than a few stakes, now. Not all my wooden stakes are wide enough to drill like this and still maintain their strength, but I think I could rig up something similar on them as well as the steel stakes I have. If this method continues to work, I might well be growing all my plants this way next year. It takes considerably less time to train up the plants.

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Community Garden Tour: Structures

One day I was looking around the community garden where The Co-Conspirator and I have a plot and started noticing the variety of structures people had made to enhance their gardens. Most were functional but a few were more decorative.

01 Crossbraced

Here, for example, is a simple cross-braced frame. I don’t recall what was growing beneath it, but it was presumably something that would need to climb.

02 A Frame with Net

This similar structure has a twine web over it for more climbing space.

03 Pipe and String

Here the web is on single-sided panels framed with metal tubing. I prefer a flat arrangement like this because I can get to both sides without having to crouch through a tunnel.

03 Simple Teepees

I made tee-pees for my pole beans to climb but they weren’t as neat as this since I constructed them from rough sticks and discarded Festivus poles. The beans didn’t seem to mind.

04 Curvilinear

This freeform trellis has a lot of character. I regret not going back to see what it looked like when plants grew on it.

05 Posts and Wire Fencing

Some seriously sturdy supports can be built of metal posts and fencing material.

051 Stick Fence

This interesting fence was composed of a variety of sticks with a single crosspiece.

06 Rack Fence

Not especially attractive but frugal, this little fence is made with what look like wire shelves from an oven or refrigerator.

07 Chive Fence

On the other hand, this simple wooden fence holding back some Alliums fits right in the garden.

08 Scrollwork

On the other other hand his commercial scrollwork trellis looks almost too nice for the  gardens.

09 Hay Tunnels

All I can assume about this construction is that it’s meant to provide some shade. I really don’t know. Just thought the little hay-thatched tunnels of wire fencing looked kind of cool.

10 Torii

This attractive gateway has been in place for several years. While it may not be strictly within the rules of the garden, it adds character.

11 Arbor

Like the gateway, the community arbor of the gardens is constructed of rough logs. It provides a nice outdoor meeting space and has been the setting of at least one art exhibit that I know of.

What sort of structures have you built in your garden to support plants, keep out pests or just enhance the space?