How to Trellis Tomatoes
How can we use household items to support the vitality of climbing plants?
This Lesson Plan is part the Home and Gardening modules of SustainEd Farms' virtual programming.
As vine plants with large, vulnerable fruits, tomatoes need to be supported in order for them to thrive in the garden. Supporting tomatoes -- called trellising -- provides numerous benefits to the plant: trellising increases canopy airflow to avoid moisture buildup and disease, supports stem and branch health by alleviating weight load, scales up the available growing space, and creates more manageable harvest. There are numerous methods and tools that are used to trellis plants, and many types of trellising for tomatoes alone. In this lesson, we explore the “Florida Weave,” which is a simple but effective technique that can be performed with household items.
Students will be able to...
Understand why tomatoes and other plants require support for optimal growing
Create a trellis using household items such as string and sticks (bamboo)
trellis /ˈtrelis/ noun/verb. - a support used for climbing plants
1. Gather your materials. You will need the following supplies:
Twine or string (long enough to stretch at least twice the length of your tomato row or bed) · supports (preferably bamboo sticks, hardwood stakes, or T-posts) · scissors or knife
2. Watch the following Youtube video to see a demonstration of how to trellis tomatoes. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.
3. Place the supports in-between your tomato plants, staking them into the ground firmly. If you are using sturdy supports, such as T-posts, you can place one between every two plants. Otherwise, if your supports are more flimsy, consider putting one before and after every tomato plant in a row.
4. Without unraveling the string, loop the string around the first support in a row and tie two knots to secure the string in place at around the mid-level mark of your tomato plants (if they are much bigger that a foot tall, start lower -- the first line should be no more than a foot off of the ground).
🕑When should you trellis? … Consider trellising your tomato plants when they reach about a foot tall, or if they are already starting to sag. Of course, it is ideal to trellis them before they become droopy. Add additional lines of trellis string before or right after the vines outgrow the level of string below.
5. Slide the string to the next support along one side of the tomato plants -- guiding tomato branches to rest on the string while you do so -- and loop the string around the support. Pull the string tight, and take note of which side you went along as you will finish this entire side before moving on to the other. Do NOT tie another knot. Repeat this step until you reach the end of the row.
6. Upon reaching the end of the row, loop the string twice around the end support. Then, continue repeating Step 5 on the opposite side, working your way back to the original support. While moving along, continue to gently tuck tomato branches under the string in order to “sandwich” them together with the other side of the string already in place.
7. When you’ve reached the original support, pull the whole fixture tight, loop the string around the support, and tie two knots to complete the trellis. Congratulations! -- you’ve completed the Florida Weave trellising technique. Continue to monitor your plants, and tuck vines into the trellis structure as needed.
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