Tomatoes are vines, so it’s natural to grow them up. This not only saves garden space but also keeps plants healthy. Tomato diseases live in the soil. Fruit rotting on the ground invites slugs. And wouldn’t you rather eat that tomato than accidentally step on it?
How do we grow up? Here are a few ideas.
BUY A CAGE. Many are very flimsy. Be sure they are made of heavy wire.
CRAFT A CAGE. Make a cylinder 18 inches in diameter out of fencing material. Wire the ends together. Be sure the fencing has holes large enough to get the tomatoes out. Anchor the bottom with tent stakes. A post in one edge of the cylinder will help keep the cage upright.
STAKE THE PLANT. Drive a seven-foot stake or post at least one foot into the ground. Put the tomato plant at the base of the stake. If using a metal post, it may have notches or hooks that will hold the twine that you use to hold the plant to the post. If using a wooden stake, put a roofing nail every six inches to hold your twine. Use soft material for tying the vines—t-shirt material cut in strips, old nylons, or jute twine.
USE AN OBELISK. If you don’t have a veggie garden but want a tomato plant or two, these look great in a flower bed.
TRELLIS THE TOMATO. Place the tomato plant at the base of the trellis and keep tying it up the trellis as it grows. If you have a wide trellis, you may be able to fit two plants on it.
UPSIDE DOWN METHOD: Start with a five-gallon bucket (get one at a big box hardware store). Cut a two-inch hole in the bottom with a hole saw. Drill five or six ¼ inch drainage holes. Set the bucket upright on two sawhorses. From the bottom insert root ball of a compact or dwarf plant through the hole so the root ball is inside, and the plant is hanging upside down. Cut a slit in a piece of paper or a coffee filter and slide it around the stem inside the bucket to support the plant as you fill the bucket with potting mix. Hang the bucket by its handle on a sturdy support. Water from the top until excess water runs free. Water daily. Fertilize weekly.
Step-by-step directions for this style on Beth’s Upside Down Bucket page.
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