Posts Tagged ‘t-posts’

T-Posts in Trellises

Friday, June 30th, 2017
T-Post Trellises

T-Post Trellises

Intensive gardening in open raised beds practically demands working with a lot of trellises.  The system of concentrated planting doesn’t lend itself to sprawl, and the solution is to grow vertically.   I stake or trellis many plants to get maximum production in limited space and to keep the aisle spaces passable.

I use T-posts as my main trellis component.  They are cheap, strong, and last forever.  And they lend themselves well to various designs. Most of my T-posts are 7’ 6” long.  I’ve found the 90” length adaptable to many trellises.  The post is tall, but not so tall I can’t work with them easily.  T-Posts normally come in lengths from about 3 feet to 12 feet.  I do have some smaller ones I use for other tasks, but I like the 90” post for most of my trellises.

Here are three different trellis structures using the same T-post for the frame.

Squash / Melon Trellis

Squash / Melon Trellis

Lacing Melon Through the Grid

Lacing Melon Through the Grid

Squash and melons:  This trellis uses concrete reinforcing grids.  The grids are 42” x 84” and are readily available at building supply stores.  I place one grid vertically between two posts and use jute twine to tie everything together.

Pea Trellis

Pea Trellis

Peas:  This trellis uses 24” landscape fence tied between posts set 3 feet apart.  The trellis makes it easy to get a lot of peas into one bed and it also puts the peas up and easy to reach from both sides of the trellis.

T-Post and Bamboo Tomato Trellis

T-Post and Bamboo Tomato Trellis

Tomato Trellis - 2

Tomato Trellis – 2

Tying off Tomato Stems.

Tying off Tomato Stems.

Tomatoes:   T-posts provide framework for the bamboo stakes and also act as a tomato stake to the adjacent plants.

Guardian of the Garden

Guardian of the Garden

T-post trellises fill a need in my quest for both a practical and sustainable garden.

 

 

T-Post and Bamboo Tomato Trellis

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Tomato Trellis

I didn’t have the heart to cull out some of my beautiful and healthy tomato starts so I ended up with 78 plants in two beds.  My normal planting is 60 plants in two beds so I had to cheat a little on the spacing.  I opened up the width across the rows and pushed the plants as far to the edges of the bed as I thought I might get away with.  I still came close to a 20″ spacing between plants and that’s close to what I always do.

I’d already determined that I was going to develop a trellis system using the eight foot bamboo stakes I bought last year. I wanted a structure with more rigidity and easier maintenance than previous trellises.  I knew bamboo stakes would work.  This is the result.

In this planting are three each of 24 different heirlooms or open pollinated varieties and one hybrid – Sungold, the excellent little orange cherry tomato that is usually the first and last tomato harvested each year. Also here (seen below) are three tomatillos, not quite a tomato, but pretty close.  Their growing requirements are nearly the same.

T-posts, Bamboo Poles, and Cages

T-posts, Bamboo Poles, and Cages

I put tomato cages around my seedlings while they are still small and train the plants to stay inside the cages. Many gardeners don’t like traditional cages, but I find them useful in that they give me some time to get a more beefy structure set up. Plus I use the cages as a framework to tie everything back to the t-posts. This creates kind of a tension structure that is close to impervious to winds and the weight of heavy plants.

I have four t-posts on each side of the bed. The t-posts are 90 inches long overall with about 16” driven into the ground, so the structure frame is about six feet tall. I like using t-posts for trellising. They are rock solid once they are in the ground and they are easy to tie off to. I use a cheap jute twine for most of my trellising. It’s soft enough that it can be used on plant stems. And it’s biodegradable and rots away in a season in the compost pile so I don’t have a disposal problem as I would with a plastic tie.

Tying into T-posts for Support

Tying into T-posts for Support

I use one bamboo pole for each plant set next to the main stem and aligned with the t-posts. I tie the cages into each other and to the t-posts wherever I can.

Lacing It All Together

Lacing It All Together

All the outer bamboo gets tied off to a t-post or a lateral bamboo framing pole, so they have a lot of rigidity. The bamboo poles in the center are free standing, but laced into their adjacent poles. This should give the center poles enough stiffness (I hope) to handle the loading as the plants mature.

Stems Tied Around Bamboo

Stems Tied Around Bamboo

I’m training the plants to be as vertical as possible by loosely wrapping multiple stems around the bamboo using the jute twine.   With very little help, tomatoes like to grow upwards.

Lots of Air Flow

Lots of Air Flow

I’m getting lots of air flow through the plants even though they are tightly spaced.  I don’t mulch my tomatoes.  When I tried mulching I had severe slug problems. I now try to keep the ground around the main stems weed free and dry. I prune away low hanging stems and leaves and try to get as much vertical growth as possible.  It took me about a full day to set all this up, but I think I’m going to be very happy with the results.