Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

January 26, 2009

A Better Trellis - part two

After my last post about "building a better trellis" I had a couple of questions that I wanted to take a minute to address as well as to share a couple of other options that I've used.

Wife to 1, Mom to 5~ liked the look of the trellising system that I wrote about, but needed a little more detail on how to grow her tomatoes.
Here you go:
This picture was taken in the '08 garden in August. It's helpful in this circumstance because it allows to you see the new framework system as well as my typical single frame tomato trellis so I can point out the differences.

The raised bed in the front is growing green beans up the twine while the raised bed in the rear had two varieties of tomato's. The single frame is made of electrical conduit and is approximately 6 - 6.5 foot tall. You can see that by August the tomato plants were already grown up and over the tops. I should add that these are indeterminate tomatoes, not determinant. The difference is that indeterminate tomatoes lend themselves better to climbing and trellising than do the determinant ones. In my previous post I showed this image: This is basically a hybrid of the single frame's tall single post to tie the twine to, with the ease and stability of the square trellis system. This is what I will be doing this year. I tied the strings to the bottom beam and then ran them up over the top beam and tied it loosely. (not too.) I place a string in the center of each square foot up the middle.

As the tomatoes grow all I had to do was gently guide them around the strings that I had tied in place. The tomatoes will naturally want to climb, they just need some support. One thing I may do is rather than tie the strings to the top of the center beam, I may tie it to the outer top beams so as to allow the tops of the vines to grow out onto them. Stay tuned in a couple of months for even more detail. For now, here's a close up of some San Marzano tomatoes growing up one of my string trellises. Pruning and training allow the plant to focus on producing tomatoes rather than plant vegetation.
Bill~ asked me at what interval I planted my green beans and how far apart are the twines? Here you go bill:
For beans and cucumbers, which are the two crops that I used these trellises for this year, I spaced beans at three plants per square foot. I alternated plants, zig-zagging along the bottom of the bed and trained the plants to grow up the strings that I had tied at approximately 6" intervals. For my six foot deep raised beds, I was able to plant 18 plants on each side of the center beam for a total of 36 plants. For cucumbers I planted them straight in line at two per square foot inline.

On the sides of the beds this year I grew onions, zucchini, herbs, a wild tomato, and carrots. I think any plant that can stand a little shade will be fine though.
And that brings me to Wendy~ who made the comment that she could see covering these trellises with plastic as a make shift greenhouse. Well, Wendy...There you go, These work very well for that as single frames, but I see no reason that they couldn't work fine as the square
trellises either.

My whole point in designing these trellises was to try to come up with something that I could modify easily and that would be versatile enough to be used season after season. They seem to have fit that bill so far I think. I look forward to hearing about your experiences with it!
Till next time.


Melissa ~ Mom to 6 said...

Paul ~ thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I showed my husband and he was equally intrigued with this system. Blog learning is so amazing. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

That looks great! I have a garden bed a bit larger than yours (about 8 ft by 15 ft), and I think a frame above it would be really useful. I could drop strings where I need them, but the rest of the plants wouldn't be bothered by the frame overhead. It'd be a lot less hassle than using stakes etc too.

Thanks for the great idea!

P~ said...

Wt1Mt5 (that's you're official new moniker her Wife to 1, LOL) Glad to hear it's been a bit of a help, or may potentially be. That's my biggest goal here.

Darren, I think that'd be great! I agree totally, I can re-configure, manipulate and modify these basic frames at will and they are well out of the way. If you do build one, I'd love to see some pictures and possibly share them here if you don't mind? drop me an email. You can find it in my profile.

Melissa ~ Mom to 6 said...

Had I known in the beginning of this blog that the Wt1Mt5 would've been on everything and that using my name isn't as scary as I thought it would be, I wouldn't have picked it. So, I'm transitioning. :)

Anonymous said...

I love it. I just found your blog via Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op. I'm totally diggin what you and your family are doing. We live on 3/4 of an acre and my husband, daughter and I are mostly attempting what you are. Unfortunately livestock is not allowed in the neighborhood. Love the trellis and we will definitely be reproducing that work of genius. I can't wait to read more of your gardening adventures to come!

Wendy said...

Yes, thank you for taking the time to explain, in detail, how your system works. I think it will work nicely in my space, as well ;).

I agree with Darren - your system would work way better than stakes, which I hate, and which never do what they're supposed to do ;).

Anonymous said...

I see in your post that you are a tomato pruner. I've heard some people who say yes to pruning and others who say no. What has been your experience?

Anonymous said...

I don't have nearly enough space in my garden to do this kind of trellis, but it is interesting to learn about. Do you have a small-scale version to share, or ideas about how to build one?

P~ said...

Eric, sorry to take so long to reply, I thought I already had.
I am a big proponent of pruning tom's. for indeterminate plants I'll prune to one main beam and then keep the suckers cut regularly. For indeterminate, I just keep the larger suckers trimmed up and let the plant do it's thing.
This summer when I have plants, I'll post more on it.

megan said...

I know that this is an older post, but I'd like to know if you have had any problems with wind. I would really like to use the single bar conduit type of trellis for my tomatoes, beans and peas this year, but I am worried that the wind here (in Oklahoma) will be too strong. Have you seen anything that would indicate wind being a potential problem?

P~ said...

Yes, wind is certainly a concern for us. Generally it comes form the south to North for us hence the orientation of the few single pole electrical conduit ones that I have. They did do alright, but what I did, that's hard to see from the pictures is to brace them with some wire at the bottom of the pole by running it through the pipe and screwing it to the wood frame.
I've since moved to having all of my frames have the Square in the Air Trellis though. I don't need to move them around, I can configure them however I want and they are near wind proof.
Best of luck to you. btw, I envy your early start on the seedlings. I always mean to start in February but never seem to quite get there though. Getting better every year though!
Hope to hear from you again. (P.S. check out the main page and leave your name if your interested in being in the drawing for a free dehydrator.)