In Colorado, tomatoes are finally here! Our May was cold and wet, which is unusual for sunny Colorado, setting plantings and harvests back 2 to 3 weeks. So while our tomatoes usually start coming in around July 4, it is now the 3rd week of July, and I finally have tomatoes.
Tomatoes are one of several crops that are best grown in your own garden. The homegrown flavors of picked-when-ripe, fresh tomatoes, snap beans, peas, or corn are worth the effort. This year I tried a new support system with my tomatoes, and so far it is my favorite because it is easy to set up, use, and store. And it’s reusable year after year!
My new method is similar to the stake-and-weave method, but it’s easier. I used sturdy wire mesh panels (concrete remesh or hog panels work well) attached to 8’ t-posts. I hung the mesh with the bottom about 1’ above the ground and attached it to t-posts using zip-ties. I planted my tomatoes 2’ apart in line with the support. While I am in the garden, I can simply weave the tomato tops back and forth through the grid pattern. I do this once a week, maybe twice, while I scout for ripe tomatoes, pests, and disease. At the end of the season, I can simply remove frost-killed vegetation, snip the zip ties, pull the t-posts and store the panels and t-posts flat, outdoors, for years of use. These are also great for creating permanent trellises rotating between peas, pole beans, melons, watermelon, cucumbers or any other climbers. I love seeing my tall, thin, yet strong wall of tomatoes. This system is simple, space efficient, reusable, and keeps plants off the ground, improving airflow and reducing the risk of soilborne diseases. It helps make weeding a snap!
Every year my gardening efforts open my eyes to new opportunities and ideas to improve colors, flavors, and methods—my skills and enjoyment grow right along side it.
What is your favorite gardening method?
2016 UPDATE: This year I decided to turn the remesh on end so they are eight feet tall by 42″ wide. Our tomatoes liked the trellis so much last year they reached over six feet! We are now growing pole beans, vining summer squash (“Tatuma”), smaller vining winter squash, and melons this way. We have found this method to be quite tidy and a great space saver. Grow up!