Have you ever wondered how an engineer trellises his tomatoes? Maybe you have visions of some delightfully complicated system. But the true measure of an engineer is his ability to come up with a simple and effective solution to a problem. Enter – my father, the engineer with a bent to gardening and a love of tomatoes.
The key to his system is everyday insulated household electrical wire, which may also be referred to as “Romex” because of the well known brand. He mostly uses 14 gauge wire. Any kind of framework should do, but he uses a single ranch panel cut to the size that fits his garden space. The panel is supported by fencing stakes.
As the tomato plant grows and shows signs of sprawling, he goes to his conveniently located supply of pre-cut wires. The insulation around the wire acts as padding, which avoids issues with the wire cutting into the plant. He has already created a hook at each end, for ease of storage on another ranch panel that is part of his nearby compost station.
One of the advantages of using the ranch panels is that the grid is large enough to allow the plants to easily grow up through and around it, without having to regularly position branches. However, the spacing is still quite close enough to make finding a hooking point unchallenging.
When needed, a wire is effortlessly placed under a joint of branches, then the other end goes over the ranch panel. The action is completed so quickly, you might be confused about what you should do next! Nothing, but watch for when to place another hooked piece of wire.
No reaching awkwardly into a cage to pick your tomatoes, or resorting to letting them grow all over the ground. This system keeps the tomatoes growing up in a space efficient way. Now, you, too, can engineer your tomato plants.