Trellis for Tomorrow usually starts training tomato plants as soon as they are in the ground. At the time of planting, we like to situate our tomato stakes, cages or other trellis systems. Putting up your trellis at the time of planting will help you avoid disturbing your plants once they are situated and makes your long-term training easier.
As has happened to many a gardener, if you plant your tomatoes without a plan for trellising, they can quickly get large and unruly. Trellis for Tomorrow trains all of our tomatoes, regardless of the variety, however; knowing your variety is very important for the proper training techniques. We suggest you start thinking about support systems for your tomatoes as soon as possible. The main strategy that we use for our gardens is called the “Florida Weave” and this is applicable for any garden that contains more than 4 or 5 tomato plants and could be used on as few as two tomato plants. For single tomatoes or smaller gardens, large tomato cages can work quite well.
The Florida Weave
The Florida Weave involves putting tall, wooden stakes firmly into the ground, at both ends and between every second or third tomato in the row. Then a string is secured to one end stake, and woven between each tomato plant back and forth, alternating sides, and secured at the far end of the bed. Running two strings per level creates a sort of sandwich effect where the tomatoes are held up by a string on either side. As the plants lean, they support each other due to the intertwined nature of the trellis string. Run a new line of string every 8 to 10 inches as the plants grow upwards.
This trellising process can begin when tomatoes are roughly 1 foot tall and is applicable to both indeterminate and determinate tomatoes. The main difference between these plants is that you should never prune determinate varieties, and you should always prune your indeterminate varieties. If you prune your determinates, chances are you’ll be cutting off branches that will make fruit which are already a finite number. If you prune your indeterminate tomatoes, you will be redirecting energy into the growth of new fruits and shoots, which is important. Find out more about the differences between determinate tomatoes and indeterminate tomatoes HERE.
Staying Hydrated in the Heat
As the summer gets closer and weather gets warmer, we all need to make sure we are adequately hydrated. The same can be said for our gardens. Plants need moisture in the soil to maintain growth, health, and to provide you with a bountiful harvest. Many Trellis for Tomorrow gardens have drip irrigation systems, and you can expect a detailed post about that coming soon.
Many of our gardens require thorough hand watering, and while this can be time consuming it will be well worth it. For each standard 12 foot by 4 foot, you could expect to water for nearly 2 minutes every 2 days. It is important to be gentle when watering, as a hard flow of water can cause disturbance to plants, roots, soil, and even wash away nutrients from your beds.
It’s also highly important to water strictly at the base of your plants. Wet leaves are a primary cause of disease and damage in organic gardening. This happens because bacteria and pathogens penetrate the cell walls of a plant much more easily when they are wet. Humidity in and around your plant can contribute to powdery mildews, wilt, and countless other problems.
We also advise you to water early in the mornings before the sun is beating down on your plants. This will give the water time to saturate the soil, without evaporating in the heat of the day. It also gives your plants time to drink the water before nighttime. If plant roots stay soaking wet through the night, it can also contribute to disease problems.
Succeeding with Succession Plantings
Succession plantings are a valuable tool for the small–scale gardener. Have you ever ended up with a hundred 20–pound zucchinis? Have you ever grown so many beans, but just couldn’t harvest them all before they got tough? The problem of growing too many plants of one type has been an issue for many a gardener throughout our time.
Luckily, there is a simple way to fix that issue. Instead of planting your whole crop at one time, plant half, and then half again in 2 to 3 weeks. This will stagger the timing of your harvests and allow you to have a window where a more manageable bounty is perfectly fresh and ready to be harvested. It can also help you grow a larger diversity of plants in your garden, by allowing things to mature at different rates and making space for new plants more frequently.