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Question

PALawler
Any ideas for inexpensive supports for tomato plants?
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Question details

I have tomato plants growing in a raised bed and had planned to fashion "cages" from wire fencing. When I realized the fencing would cost almost $30 for enough to make 5-6 cages, I've been trying to figure out an alternative. I realize cages from this material could be used in subsequent years, but it's still more than I can afford. I'm pretty handy and don't mind picking things up on "big trash day" in the neighborhood but I'm fresh out of ideas. Help!

We supported indeterminate, vining tomatoes with *tomato ladders* made of free scrap wood I picked up at the dump. Happily it was all 1"x2" pieces of various lengths. The bottom *legs* were longer, cut slanted & we hammered the ladders down into the garden bed with a mallet. The fastenings were drywall-screws, with three screws positioned in a triangle to provide rigidity in the corner joints. I wanted quite a few of them, so my son set up a jig on a piece of plywood so that they were all uniform & the work went fast. These were in our covered tomato house & in spring I put boards across the rungs for shelves to set out seedings to get more sun or harden off. After the season was over, the ladders were strong enough for small children to climb on when the tomato house became a winter play house - warm from the sun, with snowdrifts around ... :-)
We use 2 horizontal wires supported by its ends on screws partly inserted into the end frames of our polytunnel (hoophouse) one near the ground and one 5 feet off the ground. Between the two wires we tie vertical strings we tie vertical strings at the position of each tomato plant and as the plants grow we gently wind the string round the growing stem. Wires need to be strong but the strings less so. This method of winding the plants round the stem is often used by commercial growers but they tie the strings at an angle of 60 degrees to the horizontal to get a longer stem (more fruit) between the wires.
Here in Greece people use local reed (undersized, 1''diam. bamboo),it grows in abundance.They ram poles into the ground at each side of their tomato rows,spaced about 2',connect the opposite pairs above the plants ,at about 6' height,and then put on one or more horizontal runners at the top and sides.All reed poles and mild steel wire.
Thanks for all the good ideas.
Peter, thanks for the reminder about angling the tomato vine to stimulate side-branching fruit !!!

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