Tomato plants aren't difficult to grow with rich soil and full sun-- they even sprout out of compost piles and corners of the garden from previous years. As effortless they make it seem, these plants require some extra attention to ensure longevity and good fruit production. The stems and leaves grow tall and fast, and are often too weak to support themselves without help. The best way to grow healthy tomato plants is to support them with a trellis or cage that keeps the plant upright and off of the ground.
"Basket weaving" is an inexpensive way to support multiple tomato plants at once. This method also allows for good airflow around the stems and leaves. Farmer Ryan gave us some great tips today on how to bolster our Moskvich, Golden Nugget, and Glacier tomato plants.
- Pound 6' wooden stakes in the ground, every third tomato plant (in our case, we used one stake on either side of the raised bed frame).
- Use jute or synthetic twine to run lines from stake to stake, weaving back and forth around the tomato plants. This is referred to a "figure-8" style. The alternating twine will hold each plant in place, with the leaves resting on the line of support (see photo below).
- Tie a new line to the trellis 8" above the last rung, every couple of weeks as your plants continue to grow
- Prioritize 1-2 leading stems of the plant when incorporating plants into the trellis, these will allow your plant to put its energy into forming flowers and fruit.
- Water at the base of the plant and not on top of the leaves.
- If your plants need a haircut, only prune when foliage is dry to avoid spreading diseases.
- Trim lower leaves touching the ground and suckers between the main stem and leaf.
- Use organic fertilizer after heavy pruning to replenish nutrients in the soil.
This trellis design will protect your plants during summer rains and makes for easy harvesting!