Hurray! The growing season is finally upon us and starting to hit its stride! Whether we started them ourselves or purchased some locally, it is time to start thinking about plump and juicy tomatoes to go with any occasion. Putting them in salads, roasting them in the oven, on sandwiches, or even eaten whole and raw are some of our favorite ways to enjoy these tasty snacks.
Plant your tomatoes in properly prepared soil when they are about one foot tall. Make sure they have even spacing by placing them 2-3 feet apart. Remember, you want to have giant bushy plants for a hearty harvest.
No matter where you plant your tomatoes, try and wait until the temperatures stay above 60°F.
As the tomato grows, you will need to tie it higher up the vertical growing structure you use. Check to see if your tomato needs restringing every week or two.
Tie the plants again after growing about 4-6 inches above your last tie. Instead of measuring every time, a trick I like to use is to make the “hang loose” symbol with your hand and use that as your spacing.
Stinging up tomatoes can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. There are many different ways to string up your tomatoes. We will go over just a few ranging in levels of difficulty.
Using tomato cages is probably the easiest way to string up your tomatoes. If you have a few plants at home or in your garden, this is most likely the technique for you.
You can purchase tomato cages at your nearest home and garden store. Place the cages around the plant, inserting the bottom of the cage into the ground so that the whole structure is stable. Use tomato clips, soft string, zip ties, twist ties, or whatever else you have to tie the tomato as high as it can reach.
Post and String
The second method for stringing up tomatoes is probably the most widely used. This technique is best for growers with larger amounts of tomatoes plants as you can string many up with in one area. It is also good for growers on a budget.
Place posts on either side of the line you are going to plant. You can use all sorts of posts including: wood, rebar, t-posts, or even downed (semi-straight) branches. Place posts about 6-10 feet apart. You can extend your tomato line by simply adding another post down the line.
Plant your little friends with proper spacing, moisture, temperature, and soil conditions. Then take some bailing string or soft rope and tie one end to the post, about 6 inches above the ground. It is important to note that the wrong kind of string can cut and damage your tomatoes.
Run the string through your plants and over to the other post. Make sure the line is as tight as you can get it (This will make sure the string can support the abundance of tomatoes you will get later). Loop the string around the second post a few times and then run it back to the first post. So that you have string on both sides of the plants. Remember to check back every week or so to retie your plant as it grows taller.
This technique is a little bit more advanced than the others but will also give your tomatoes the best sunlight and space conditions.
By creating an A frame, leaning wooden support system, or inverted V trellis, you can maximize space and efficiency. If you are in the northern hemisphere, lean your structure so that the top is a little further north than the bottom. This faces your support structure south, which gets the most sunlight comes from (if you are in the northern hemisphere.)
You can take advantage of edges in this way by growing up and out. It is also very easy to harvest from a leaning trellis as the actual tomato will be right in front of you.
Tomatoes are fun and easy to grow. They will provide you with a lot of great food for summer barbeques, campouts, dinner with friends, or whatever else you enjoy doing. They are great starter plants to introduce kids into growing and are generally pretty easy to find. Now that you know about growing them up, get up and grow! Until next time my friends!
Photos: Benjamin Chun, Tim Sackton, Elias Gayles
Jake Frazier is an outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Residential Ecology, a sustainable ecological resource management company. He uses existing natural systems to improve the quality of life for both humans and the Earth. Jake is interested in permaculture, living systems and exploring. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
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