The New Home Economics

Growing tomatoes on a trellis system

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Here’s something new we’re trying this year: a tomato trellis!

tomatoes growing up a trellis

We bought six 8-ft cedar 2×2’s, cut 24 inches off of two of them and about a foot off the other two, then fastened it all together with screws to make a 7 foot tall x 6 foot long x 2 foot wide structure. Adam pounded it in with a mallet to about 1 foot deep.  It is very sturdy — I hope we can get it out in the fall so that we can rotate crops next year!

Twine is strung from the top bar, tied near the base of the plant, and wound around the central stem once a week or so.  I’m also pruning out all suckers — I’ve never pruned tomatoes this drastically before so we’ll see how it goes! (Here’s a great video tutorial.)  I can’t believe how big these plants are for early June.  And look:

Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes already!

Sungold tomatoes

Sungold cherry tomatoes: we’ll be eating these in just a few weeks. Never in my life have I been able to produce tomatoes before July. This is a strange, warm year.

How about the rest of the garden? Well things are just looking amazingly large and healthy. Maybe we’ll make up for 2011’s shortcomings this year.

Milkweed will be flowering soon. I want to make the pickled milkweed capers recipe from Trout Caviar, but I’m not really sure when they’re going to be ready to pick. It says 1/2″ pods, so we’re not there yet — I’m thinking it’s the post-flower seed pod he’s referring to.

Insane hops, herbs, disappointing nothing on the left trellis (heirloom melons never sprouted), de-scaped garlic. I made a small batch of garlic scape pesto this morning. Substituted sunflower seeds for pine nuts and omitted the parmesan; I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. Result: excellent.

green beans and bok choi

Two more things I’ve never tried before: four heads of bok choi flanked by two rows of haricot verts green beans (cucumbers approaching the trellis in the background). The bok choi seems ready to start harvesting the outer leaves. I sense a stir-fry in my near future.

The whole garden, as seen from the deck (standing on a chair).  Anneke found a whole handful of snow peas that I had missed and ate them perched precariously by the rain barrel.  The zucchini and watermelon are in the foreground, this side of the fence.  I’m going to add some beneficial nematodes this week in hopes of avoiding the issues I had last year with squash vine borers. Fingers are crossed! How’s your garden growing?

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7 thoughts on “Growing tomatoes on a trellis system

  1. We’re also using twine to train our tomatoes upwards this year, but ours are housed inside our (cold, as in no heat added!) greenhouse. So far, so good, but we haven’t quite made it to actual fruit (early signs of fruiting). You must be thrilled! Do you find that the straw cover really keeps weeds down well in your beds?

  2. Looks great. I agree that this year seems to be a whole different ball of wax than last year. So exciting, even if I can’t really explain why it’s going so much better.

  3. Jennifer, you can pickle, or simply salt, the flower buds, exactly at that stage you show in your picture, for another sort of caper ersatz. I just noticed how quickly the milkweed is coming along out here in Wisconsin (wonder when I’ll stop referring to where I live now as “out here”…). The little pods will be appearing in no time. And yes, in the book it’s the tiny pods I talk about, then subsequently tried preserving the flower buds. Both are good but I think the pods are a little more interesting. Try ’em both. Cheers~ Brett

  4. Ignorant, but how do Haricots Verts differ from regular green beans?

    • They simply are supposed to have a more gourmet flavor. Haricots verts is just french for “green beans.” So I guess I called them Green Beans Green Beans didn’t I? Oops.

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