It was a busy but very satisfying week of garden activity.  A week after transplanting tomatoes to the garden, it was time to set up structures to support them.  After some thought, I have decided to devote this entire post to showing you how I set up my trellis system.

I have been using this trellis to support my indeterminate tomatoes since 2007, a year after coming home from vacation only to find that all of my tomato plants were dying.  Research revealed that the culprit was “early blight”.  One of the best suggestions I found for managing this disease was the use of trellising systems to support the plants.  The theory is that if properly supported and pruned, tomatoes will better resist “early blight” due to the fact that they are spread out properly so that air can keep them dry.

Over the coming weeks, I will chronicle the growth of my tomatoes, and show you how I prune and maintain my crop.  This system works.  I wouldn’t grow indeterminate tomatoes any other way.  So, let’s get started.

Step One – Setting Uprights in Place

UPRIGHTS FOR TOMATO TRELLIS

DRIVING STEEL FENCE POSTS INTO THE GROUND

After trying wood posts, I settled on 7′ steel fence posts for two reasons:

1.  The steel fence posts are easier to drive into the ground with a sledge hammer.  They take the abuse quite well.

2.  They are strong and durable.

Step  Two – Installing Cross Pieces

I use wood cross pieces, preferably wood that is somewhat weather resistant such as fir, cedar or mahogany(currently very expensive).  In the past, I have installed stainless steel screws every six inches so that I can wrap “tomato twine” around the screw heads creating a zigzag pattern that I can then clip to (more about that later).  Lately, I have been using clamps to hold up the cross pieces until I can get them secured.

ADDING WOOD CROSS PIECES

ADDING THE CROSS PIECES

USING CLAMPS TO TEMPORARILY HOLD CROSS PIECES IN PLACE

CLAMPS MAKE THE JOB GO EASIER

Securing the Cross Pieces to the Uprights

I have a toolbox full of fasteners that I have used over the years.  However, I do have my favorite; a bolt with cotter pin.  It’s easy to put on and even easier to remove at the end of the season.

MY FAVORITE FASTENING SYSTEM

MY FAVORITE FASTENING SYSTEM

TRELLIS FASTENER

CROSS PIECE SECURED TO UPRIGHT WITH BOLT AND COTTER PIN

Step Three – Applying Tomato Twine

Now that we have all of our uprights and cross pieces in place, it is time to install the tomato twine.  I source mine from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  It comes in a compact box which makes it easy to maneuver.  I start by making a loop which I attach to one of the screws on the end of the bottom cross piece.  I then bring the string to the end screw on the top cross piece, loop it around the screw twice and head back to the bottom, in a zigzag pattern.

STARTING TO APPLY THE TOMATO TWINE

STARTING TO APPLY THE TOMATO TWINE

TOMATO TRELLIS AT GREG'S GARDEN PARTY

A COMPLETED TOMATO TRELLIS

Please feel free to use the comment section to ask questions about tomato trellising.  In future posts  I will show you how I prune and clip my tomato plants to the trellis.  We will track progress right up to harvest.

All the best,

Greg Garnache