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A tomato trellis is a structure that provides support to tomato plants while they grow. Trellises also hold fruit and foliage off the ground, preventing disease, insect, and water damage. Tomato plants can be a determinate variety, which grows to a specific size, and may not need additional support while growing. Indeterminate varieties are vines that will grow as tall as weather and soil conditions will allow, and these plants need the support of a tomato trellis. Tomato supports come in many ingenious shapes.
At its most basic, a tomato plant can be attached to a wooden or metal stake using twine, twist-ties, commercial plant ties, or old nylon stockings. Tomatoes can also be supported by tomato cages. These supports are usually made of metal and are conical or square, with stakes that are pressed into the ground. A tomato trellis of this kind typically costs $3-$5 US Dollars (USD). The drawbacks are that these cages may not be strong enough to hold large plants, and it can be difficult to harvest or prune the plants inside the wire.
String or twine trellises are usually very inexpensive and can be earth-friendly. A length of twine about six feet (1.8 meters) long is tied loosely to the bottom of a tomato plant stem. The other end of the string can be tied to a post, the edge or a roof, or any other horizontal support. As the plant grows, the vine can be trained to twist around the string, or can be tied to the support at intervals.
A lattice or mesh-type tomato trellis is a good choice for gardeners who plan to grow tomatoes in the same location each year, especially gardeners with a lot of room for tomato crops. Tomato plants can be tied to wooden lattices or to fencing wire. To make a wire fencing lattice, place metal fencing stakes in the ground at eight foot (two meter) intervals, and attach fencing wire across the stakes. The tomato vines will weave through the wire as it grows, allowing easy access to fruit and foliage. While it can be rather expensive, this type of tomato trellis will last for years.
Supporting tomato vines as they grow is one of the keys to raising healthy, productive plants. Gardeners should examine the trellises for signs of wear or damage to the plants. If a crop of tomatoes develops disease, a gardener should clean the reusable tomato trellis with a bleach solution, to avoid the same problem the following year. By trial and error, a gardener can choose the type of trellis that works best in one’s garden.