Posts Tagged ‘trellising’

T-Post Tomato Trellis

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I finally built a tomato trellis that I’m happy with.  I knew this was a good approach years ago, but it was one of those projects I never took the time to complete.

I usually grow about 30 tomato plants in three rows in one of my 20 feet long by five feet wide beds.  Two years ago, when my crop was decimated by late blight, I learned that blight can be slowed by good air circulation.  Crowded and damp conditions greatly increase the chance of blight, and I certainly was crowding my plants.  I always had good fruit production, but until the blight hit, I didn’t realize I was setting myself up for problems because the plants were too close to breathe properly.

To increase the amount of air circulation around the plants, which I grow up through traditional conical tomato cages, I sloped the outer two  rows of cages outward  and planted the tomatoes farther apart in the rows across the bed.  To keep the cages from falling over as the tomato plants gain weight, I lace all the cages together with jute twine and tie cages adjacent to the T-posts to the posts.  This system will stand up to the strongest wind storms and no matter how heavy the plants get, they cannot pull over the cages.

In years past I set six T-posts per bed along the outside rows and just tried to tie the sprawling plants to the posts where possible.  It was obvious that cross bracing at the top would solve a lot of problems in forcing the plants growth upward.  This year, I used 8 posts per bed and laced branches across and around all the T-Posts at the top.  I’m bundling about three stems of tomatoes together and lacing those to the cross-branches above and back to T-posts wherever I can.  So far it’s working great.  Just a caveat, while good air circulation can reduce blight problems, there is no guarantee that it will prevent blight.

I try to keep the area at ground level pruned of any tomato stems and fruit that may want to lie on the ground.  I don’t mulch my plants for weed protection.  I did that once and had a slug infestation.  The plants seem to like having dry soil at ground level and keeping that area clean really improves air circulation.  I can also verify that a bed full of tomatoes planted intensively really reduces the amount of weeding required.

494 Peas – More or Less

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Here’s me, yesterday, atop a bed, planting peas.  We had a nice little break in the rainy weather, so I took the opportunity to get my peas seeded.  I’m using a large piece of plywood to kneel on.  The plywood disperses my weight and allows me to get right on top of the bed.  It makes the work much easier that trying to reach in from the sides to set the peas in place.

The bed has just over 36″ of flat planting width across the top.  I’m planting the peas 2 inches apart and planting a double row using back to back yardsticks as my guide.  So I end up with a double row of peas with 19 peas in each row.

This year I’m spacing the rows 18 inches apart.  Last year I used a 15″ spacing, which worked out fine, but I think the extra 3″ will allow a little more sun in and give me more room to plant lettuces and salad greens in between the peas.  I did that last year with good success.

 

Once the peas begin to sprout, I’ll set up trellises using T-posts and 24″ fencing.  Here’s a picture of last year’s peas showing the trellises in place and lettuces around and in between the peas.

I ended up with 13 double rows – roughly 494 peas.  I planted six varieties, various snap and shell peas, capuciner soup peas (our favorite),  and some snow peas.  I’ve got the shorter sugar pea varieties planted in the south end and the tall capuciners and snow peas to the north.  I don’t ever get 100% germination, although the home-saved capuciner peas sprout extremely vigorously, and I normally don’t have to thin the pea seedlings.  This year I’ll be diligent about protecting them from woodchucks and other varmints. I’ve had some issues with critters when I did not get fencing up quickly enough. This year, with luck, we can expect a bountiful harvest not too many weeks away.