This past weekend, I finally got around to building trellises for my tomatoes - in the nick of time too as a few of the plants were starting to keel over. Up until recently, I didn't quite know how I was going to accomplish this from a design perspective. In the past, my homemade trellises never quite lived up to expectations. Indeterminate tomatoes can grow extremely tall, which make them quite heavy. My vines can reach up to 15 feet long if left unpruned. I've built metal trellises using heavy duty fence posts and 9 gauge wire as well as wooden A-frame trellises with 1x 3s and garden twine. Both designs were either wobbly or sagged under the strain of these heavy tomato plants. So this time around, I decided to do much more research.
I was leaning towards building homemade tomato cages out of concrete reinforcement wire as they seem to work for my fellow garden bloggers and are a fraction of the cost of those Texas tomato cages. Unfortunately, I'm growing 6 tomato plants per 4' x 4' raised bed and was doubtful that I could fit 6 cages within this limited space. There's also the storage issue if you don't design the cages to nest. Then by chance, I came across a wonderful blog (which I can't find now - so frustrating Google Images!) that featured these amazing trellises built from 10' rebar and 3 1/2' x 7' remesh. I knew instantly that these would suit my raised beds perfectly.
Building these trellises was straight forward enough. I drove wooden stakes into the ground about 15 inches deep and then pulled them out, creating holes to insert the rebar at each corner of my raised bed. Once in, I firmed the soil around the base to secure them. Next, I used plastic zip ties to connect the rebar at the top (I used two for good measure) and attach the remesh to each pole (I spaced these about a foot and a half apart).
In the end, I was very happy with this design. It was simple to construct and seems very sturdy and stable. Four of my tomatoes will be trained to grow up the remesh while the remaining two will be trained onto heavy duty garden twine stretching from the top of the trellis to the base of the plant. The cost to build these three trellises (enough for 18 plants) was approximately $110, which is still very reasonable. Once the season ends, I can easily dismantle them to store - another added bonus. I have high hopes for them but only time will tell whether they'll ultimately live up to my expectations.
(PS - To the mystery blogger - I will keep trying to find you, but if by any chance you find this post, please reach out to me and I will certainly give you proper credit for your wonderful design!)