Trellis, Pole, or Cage
This year the Arlington Food Assistance Center gardeners used the Central Library vegetable garden to demonstrate some of the ways you can grow tomatoes, especially if you don’t have a lot of space.
Tomatoes can be grown on a trellis by tying the two major stems (called leaders) up to a wire above the plant in a V shape. As the plant grows, the nylon string is continually untied, wrapped around the stem, and tied back to the wire trellis:
Extra branches (called suckers) are pruned for control and to give the plant more energy to make bigger tomatoes. Pruning off the lower branches and suckers provides more air circulation, allows more sunshine to plants, and makes weeding tending and harvesting easier.
Tomatoes can be grown on a pole like this one, attached to an 8-foot section of strong and inexpensive half inch steel reinforcing bar (rebar).
As the tomato plant grows, it must be taped or tied to the rebar and kept pruned of suckers and extraneous branches.
Growing tomatoes on a pole makes maximum use of ground space, keeps the plans orderly, provides easy access to the plants for trimming and harvesting, and allows good circulation for air and sunlight.
Tomatoes can be grown inside a cage like this that is 5 feet tall with 6-inch x 6-inch openings.
The cage keeps the plant confined while allowing easy access to tend it and to harvest the fruit. As the plant grows, it can be attached to the case for support if necessary.
Shorter cages and those with smaller openings are less satisfactory for growing so-called “indeterminate” tomatoes such as hybrid Big Boy tomatoes that will easily fill this cage.
How are you growing tomatoes in your garden?