I've finally found it: A tomato trellis that won't blow over or collapse under the weight of my tomato plants. And it's made from common materials from the hardware store and uses just a few common tools. I don't know what it is about our little plot here in Southwestern Idaho, but the tomatoes love it here. I'm thinking it's the long, hot sunny days punctuated with very occasional rain storms.
This article was originally published on Stacie's old blog, The Petite Farmstead. You can find all of the other posts from that blog here.
Trapped in the Tomato Cage
In previous years, I'd used the common wire tomato cages that you find every spring in most home and garden centers. And each fall, I ended up with a tangled mass that ended up in my recycling bin. The plants just got too big and heavy for the cages to withstand. Wood cages were no better. They rarely stood up to the moisture and weather after one season.
A Better Solution: The Indestructible Tomato Trellis
Imagine this: an alternative to the tomato cage that is inexpensive, easy to build from common materials, uses few tools, and is nearly indestructible. Enter the conduit and rebar tomato trellis.
I'd first read about the conduit tomato trellis in Mel Bartholomew's popular book, All New Square Foot Gardening. His plan suggested using one long piece of conduit, bent into a 3-sided square or rectangle. The hollow ends would then fit over two pieces of rebar staked in the ground. Pre-made trellis netting is then tied in the open space of the trellis. "Good idea," I thought.
And went about my business, and mostly forgot about it.
Then I discovered Reaganite71's YouTube Channel. This guy is awesome. A quick browse of his site shows you how to do things like spank your tomatoes, make drunken compost, and more. Who knew gardening could be so exciting? He has an amazing video on how to make a tomato trellis from conduit and rebar, but instead of purchasing trellis netting, he shows you how to tie your own trellis from nylon string. I had to try it.
Make a Tomato Trellis in About an hour with a Few Simple Tools
I was delighted that the project would take only about an hour or so from start to finish (including tying the netting). All I needed for the project was:
- a couple of 10-foot sections of electrical conduit
- conduit elbows
- nylon string
- conduit cutters
- a screwdriver
- a cigarette lighter (for cutting the nylon string without fraying the ends)
The Easy & Entertaining Instructional Video
To learn how to make your own tomato trellis, watch the video. It's very informative and entertaining, and easy to follow.
The Results in My Garden
I built two trellises for my tomatoes, and one for my squash. They're solid and very lightweight. I positioned the trellises east-west (since our prevailing winds are from the west, this should help reduce wind resistance).
The east-west orientation also helps my growing tomatoes shade the bell peppers I planted on the north side of the trellis. As you can see, I even started tying trellis netting between the two tomato trellises.
There are some tiny cucumbers that will grow up that portion of the netting. All told, I'm really happy with this project.
Update: The Great Wall of Tomato
As you can see, my tomatoes grew and grew. They were HUGE and got a teensy weensy bit out of control. They produced so many tomatoes, I had my neighbors coming over to pick them! The trellis setup worked so well.
Once I cut the dead plants off at the end of the season, they looked as good as new. I left them outside all winter, and they're ready to go this year once again! Definitely the best tomato trellis I've ever used!
More helpful and fun gardening videos await
Be sure to subscribe to Reaganite71's YouTube Channel! What's your favorite trellising method for tomatoes? Let me know in the comments below.
We love history, old movies, exploring the outdoors, and of course -- cooking together. Our faithful pups, Mila and Eva, are always ready to clean up any morsels that accidentally tumble from the kitchen counter.