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best trellises for tomato, beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, peas, raspberries...

 
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My trellises always tip over or the peas refuse to climb on them.
What trellises are you using?
I recently simply cut some branches of a tree stuck it into the ground and tied it together with a rope. Looks good but peas dont really climb well on it. Then I stuck some smaller branches around and the weight of the peas are tipping everything over.
I always have problems with tomato plants and other climbers too. As mcuh as I like the idea of growing up, I didn't find a great trellis system so far.
 
Posts: 423
Location: Portlandish, Oregon
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I usually string train my zone 1 climbers
 
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Cattle or hog panels for the big stuff and welded wire 1x1 fencing for the peas, beans trellised on the corn. All fencing materials stabilized with T posts.
 
Paula Edwards
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I must have a look for both, cattle panels are a bit expensive though they want around $100 here.
 
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Here's my tools:
Whatever I can get hold of that's 'stakey': bamboo is great, but my favourite is the old galv cold water pipes.
Old cotton or natural fibre sheets

My peas are't staunch like tomatoes, and while their wee tendrils will latch on to stuff, I find they need to be pushed around quite a bit.
I have warrattahs/star pickets supporting windbreak cloth all around the main garden. It gets really windy...
I grow snow peas at the Southern end (Southern hemisphere...), inside the windbreak.
I poke thin bamboo between the warrattahs and run strips of sheet around the outside of the peas.
I need photos
Indeterminate tomatoes are something else. I find they need a really full-on setup right from the start
I stake 'em, but I'm sure a cage would be better. The sheet strip gets wound around the whole plant and stake and the lot goes on the compost
 
Jay Green
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Paula Edwards wrote:I must have a look for both, cattle panels are a bit expensive though they want around $100 here.



WOW!!! They run around $22 ea. here and the investment is well worth it, as they are multifunctional and store flat, last forever.
 
Posts: 183
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Concrete reinforcing mesh, which usually comes in 20' x 7' sizes, gives more bang for the buck than hog panels.
 
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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I wouldn't use a trellis for tomatoes, cucumbers, melons or pumpkins. For raspberries, they'll climb on anything but since the plants are long lived perennials it's best to plant them next to something fairly permanent like the house or a fence. Corn is the best trellis for summer beans, and for peas since there's nothing tall/sturdy enough that I'm aware of that grows in the same season as peas, I'm just going for bush peas instead.
 
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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I have an idea about tomatoes I'd like to share, get feedback on.

First, tomatoes, if left to themselves, wouldn't climb anything. So, if you want them to climb something, it's more like sticking them on something straight for picking purposes.
This is usually a pole, or a string that you kind of wind around as it goes.

The ease of picking the tomatoes here is the determining factor. Nobody wants to fish out tomatoes under a bunch of leaves and weeds.

The other observation is that tomatoes have special "elbows" that connect stem pieces. These elbows are very important for crawling along the ground. If an elbow comes into contact with the ground, the elbow sends out roots, increasing the plant's capacity to get water and grow. It also sends out new shoots, which can constitute whole new plants. I'd say that this natural tendency is something we could work with. The plant increases its mass and finds more ways to feed itself. Another observation is the amount of foliage, tomatoes grow lots of leaves to shade out things below it. A conventional cultivation of tomatoes has bare earth under the propped-up plant. I can't imagine the tomato plant is happy about that. You could mulch, but why not let the tomatoes shade things for itself?

My experiment this year was to create a short tee-pee. I knew a tall one would be useless, because I'd be fussing with it all the time to get it to stick to the poles in an effort to get them to go high. My objective was to raise the tomatoes off the ground so they wouldn't be prone to disease and to make it easy for me to pick. At worst, I'd have to stick my hand in a little.

Once I did the first attachments, the plant stayed in one place, shaded out everything below it, sent out it's elbows and made new plants and got the nutrients it needed to stay healthy. From that point on I just picked. I didn't even water that much. We were in serious drought but the plants did okay nonetheless.

There is another discussion specifically about supporting tomatoes on this forum. In that thread there is a link to Skeeter's cage. The tomato grows thru a two-layered grate.
William

 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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Here are two supports you might be interested in. Both use the hanging string trick.
Care of these people: autosufficienza.com
W
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Paula Edwards
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You're right with the tomatoes. They don't like stakes. I think many problems with trellises come because they are not sturdy enough. My tepes tend to to tip, some were too high too.
In our old garden I had something great for cucumbers. It was an A but had hinges on the top that it can be folded away. It was made out of old fencing timber.
I don't know weather this would work for tomatoes too. (I actually could ask the children... they discovered woodworking)
I must ask the price of reinforcing mesh but I guess that here it is very expensive too.
 
Posts: 415
Location: Georgia
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Ivan Weiss wrote:Concrete reinforcing mesh, which usually comes in 20' x 7' sizes, gives more bang for the buck than hog panels.





This is what I use in my cages. That way I can inter-crop tomatoes all over the garden. These cages also
can be used for beans and peas by planting in a circle. I have had success growing black cherry tomatoes
along my welded wire fence in a kind of espalier method taking the vines in both directions along the fence.
One plant filled up a good sized section of the fence and all the tomatoes are at waist height.
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you need many, it is more economical to buy the concrete reinforcing by the roll. Home Depot has it in 150' rolls.
Or, a concrete company may be willing to sell rolls even cheaper.

 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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John Polk wrote:If you need many, it is more economical to buy the concrete reinforcing by the roll. Home Depot has it in 150' rolls.
Or, a concrete company may be willing to sell rolls even cheaper.



I was talking about concrete reinforcing wire in general. What I am using came in a roll and it wasn't 7' tall.
It is still expensive to buy a roll of that stuff but it will be with you quite awhile. I used welded wire for beans
in one of my beds last year. I put it in a zig zag pattern and planted other stuff in the triangles that created.
The problem with that was once the vines were dead they were not easily disposed of. Using something that
can be composted or easily pulled free of the vines would be a better solution.
 
Alex Ames
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I had a few pea seeds left that were getting old so I planted them and virtually every one came up.
My trellis consists of two short stakes with a cane pole at the top and eleagnus whips for the peas to
climb on.
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There are several kinds of fencing that can be used, ranging in price from $25 to $90 for a 16 foot length. The cheapest is called hog panels or livestock panels. Be sure you're asking for the right type of fencing.
 
John Polk
steward
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Carolyn Male, author of "100 Tomatoes for the American Garden" says that in all the years, she has never staked her tomatoes. "I just let them sprawl."

I have a nephew who has a 'picnic spot' under a huge shade tree. He planted some cherry tomatoes near there several years ago. They keep spreading, and reseeding. They now cover about 3,000 square feet! Guess what's on the menu for summer picnics?

 
author
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good topic here, I am always looking for better ways to trellis my crops. mainly peas, tomatoes, green beans, cukes, and dry pole beans. here is what I use at this time, though I always want to find a better way-

tomatoes- field fencing rolled in a cylinder. I find about 7' of fence makes a cyliner 2+ feet in diameter. If you can find an old livestock fence to take down this is best because the wire is thicker. I plant 2-3 tomatoes in each cage, and let them grow/sprawl/collapse as they will. Very low labor once you make the cages. Doesnt mess up the natural growth habits of tomatoes, but does keep the fruit off the ground for better quality.

peas, green beans, cucumbers- metal T posts with bailing twine strings running horizontally every 8" or so. this is easy to pull out and store at the end of each year, and setup is quick. the plastic bailing twine is super strong, free, and doesnt heat up in the sun. I alternate green beans and cucumbers in the row so they are somewhat overlapping each other on the trellis. They have the same planting and harvesting dates, and growing together, seem happy for the companionship. Peas are a different season so the are solo.

dry pole beans- grow up the corn stalks in the Three Sisters bed. I know, not really trellis, but it sure works!

keep the good ideas coming folks, its getting real close to trellis time!
 
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I use the 5 x 3' concrete reinforcing mesh panels tied to 8' pvc pipe with tie wire. I started doing it in Oklahoma where we'd have F5 tornadoes, and hailstorms that'd riddle the ground with 3' deep holes. This method was indestructible and could withstand 80 mph winds, which is great because I hated having to reset up the traditional trellises. I stick a tube of the 8' pvc pipe into the ground about 3-4 feet (it typically would slide right in) tie one end of the mesh (I'd tie it tall instead of wide) then where ever the end of it was I'd stick another pvc pipe and tie wire it to the mesh. I'd keep zig zagging the mesh and pvc pipe through out the area I needed the trellis.
 
Posts: 108
Location: King William, VA
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The guy who runs the Raleigh, NC community garden shared this Youtube video, called "A Trellis to Make You Jealous".  After watching, it made me jealous, so I went out and got the materials and built this modular system in my own garden!  You can see in the picture of my garden how all of the trellises are the same, even though they are being used for different vegetables.  

I had previously been using cages for my tomato plants, but the plants would always outgrow the cages, get unruly and become so thick and congested that they would invite fusarium wilt and blight.  This year I am using the single leader system with the clips and so far everything is working out great!  For my determinate tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant I am using the "Florida weave" system to keep the plants from sprawling on the ground and inviting disease.  I am also using a single leader and clips for my cucumber plants this year.  This system should help with powdery mildew on the cucumbers.  Of course my peas and pole beans are being utilized by the trellis as well.  I am liking this modular system a lot because from year to year when rotating the annual vegetables to different rows in the garden, I can easily move the trellis and it will work the same no matter what row I am growing the trellised plants on.

Here is a link to the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vqRMKOxaW8

Happy gardening!
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I have found some really heavy duty galvanized cages locally that are wider at the bottom than the top (unlike anything you'll find at the big box stores). They're super stable and strong, but at $25/each not the most economical.

I also found 6x6 galvanized fence at Murdoch's in 4' x 16' sheets for ~$30 each.

I love the ideas with the concrete mesh. Can folks who have used that material post some pictures?
 
Posts: 67
Location: Ontario
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Thanks for posting that Joshua. I checked out the video and have most of the parts to make that happen for my tomatoes and peppers.
We had to redo our Pea trellis was really not right is all I can say. Went with two upright  sticks and twine across the top and twine hanging down for the peas to climb.
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New pea trellis
New pea trellis
 
pollinator
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My wife doesn’t like tomato cages in the front yard. The bamboo and cedar poles absolutely look better and I find them easier to prune too. The first pic is my comfrey bed. I put it in the middle so I could chop and drop the bed easily. Peppers, kale, ground cherries with some small perennial shrubs.
The second pick was meant to be simply a pollinator garden but several veggies and fruit somehow made their way into it. 😁  
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Joshua LeDuc
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Your pea trellis looks nice, James!  More organic looking than my Tposts for sure.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Another thing about the trellis is that I've been noticing a lot of birds sitting on the horizontal conduit.  Undoubtedly they are pooping down into the garden and eating bugs!
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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Here’s a couple makeshift bamboo trellises I’ve made.
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Raspberry trellis
Raspberry trellis
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Tomatoes and cucumbers with peas along the legs.
Tomatoes and cucumbers with peas along the legs.
 
pollinator
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Pole beans are a warm crop that produces fairly fast: They can use the corn. They will get planted in a few days, when the corn reaches the "knee high" stage.
For my tomatoes, I have 2 kinds: the determinate in the garden will stay smaller, so they can go in the conventional cages I used a long time ago. [Get the kind that flatten if you can] .
For the indeterminate that grow in half barrels on the deck, those barrels have straight walls, so I wrap a length of welded fence wire: One end smooth, the other one has the "hooks" that I can bend to close that fence.. The 4 ft is a good height: I make it go all around the barrel, down to the deck and I make sure it is a bit snug: That makes it very stable: A gust of wind is not going to move them. Also, I don't need a stake and it looks neat and clean. The holes are only 2"X 4", which is a bit small, but I'm arranging some "picking holes" here and there with a wire cutter so I can reach in anywhere I want.
For storage, it will be a bit cumbersome, but I can open and flatten them and lay them flat somewhere.[Maybe over the spring bulb bed to discourage rodents, although the holes are big and may not deter them much. I don't know]. I might also roll them all together and stand them somewhere out of the way, outside. We'll see: I won't need to deal with them again until spring and tomatoes season comes around.
 
Posts: 92
Location: Near Libby, MT
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I know that this looks pretty industrial but I battle ground squirrels and pack rats (that have stolen entire tomato plant branches). My hoop house is three cattle panels bent over a 12 by 5 foot frame. It's covered with garden cloth that lets in about 90 percent of the sunlight. The tomatoes are planted in stacks of four or five tires that I wrap with metal sheeting, lots of room for deep roots.

Cloth strings tied to the cattle panels help keep the plants upright so that I can keep the bottoms trimmed and fruit accessible. And I picked up some sturdy cages at a yard sale, will see how those work this year. No critter has yet scaled my tomato tires. Some panels were old and bent and we cut them to fit over my bathtubs planted with beans and peas. I like the strings handing down thing.

Materials can be expensive but tires were free and a neighbor gave me the cattle panels as he was disposing of them. The fabric is supposed to last seven years, I will roll it up for winter, and the metal is a one time expense. The cover extends our short growing season. And last year something, maybe some sort of insecticide drift, caused major leaf wilt. Neighbors are three to five acres away so I am not sure how that could have happened. In any case the cover may help protect the tomatoes from this, also from some flying pests.

This has been a chilly wet spring in northwest Montana. Everything feels a few weeks late. I am anxious to see how things progress.
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Hoop house, tomato tires
Hoop house, tomato tires
 
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Location: Catawba NC
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I've been using concrete re-enforcement wire for over 40 years and a lot are the same cages .... Nothing better ...  
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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We have a bunch of invasive privet growing here. I cut it in the winter and let it dry out. Come summer I have decently strong veggie stakes. If you leave some of the branches it makes a pretty cool looking cowpea or cucumber trellis. I’ve tried it with mimosa trees too. Once they’re dry  enough to use they become brittle.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Scott, I have so much privet growing in my woods it's infuriating.  What is your method of getting rid of it?
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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Sadly, I don’t have a method. Years ago I saw that a midwestern farm was using oyster mushrooms. They were getting rid of Tree of Heaven though. I’m not sure if it would work on privet but it may be worth a try. They would strip the very top layer of bark off leaving the cambium layer intact. Then drill holes in a diamond shaped pattern and insert the plugs. The tree didn’t know it was in trouble so it never sent the signal to sprout more trees from its extensive root system. Damn, I need to try this! I truly haven’t thought about this in years. It’s certainly worth a try. The tree gave up mushrooms until the day it died.
 
Posts: 17
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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We also do line trellising with a single leader for our tomatoes - also seen it called high pruning or high trellising. Works great for supporting the plants and allows us (with limited garden space) to grow more tomatoes in less space while still getting enough sun. We used to take it one step further when I was farming and do the 'lower and lay' technique using Tomahooks supported from overhead cabling in our greenhouse - very labor intensive, but allowed us to grow A LOT of tomatoes in just half our greenhouse.

We recently shot a video detailing the line training / line trellising / high trellising / high pruning technique for our neighbors - might be helpful to see it if the words don't make sense.


We also us this technique for our cucumbers and they do very well with it.
 
Scott Stiller
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Hey Joshua. With a dry piece of privet you can do a lot of stuff if you have an artistic mind! I don’t, basic plant prop for me!
I’ve looked for the link about oyster mushrooms. I seem to have misplaced it. I’ll keep looking and pass it on when I find it.
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Dry privet
Dry privet
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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Great video Casey! It broke my heart to see those suckers tossed on the ground though. I can’t help it, I have to grow all of them 😀. I think your video was made at a great time with all the new victory gardeners starting out. Most folks don’t have the room that some of us take for granted. A simple technique made possible by a simple trellis. We all want new gardeners to succeed early so they don’t get frustrated and quit. Good job my friend!
 
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It broke my heart to see those suckers tossed on the ground though. I can’t help it, I have to grow all of them
..Scott, are you saying those suckers can be planted?...Why the heck did nobody ever tell me this?...I feel so, "shorted"
thanks for the info. I'm gonna have to try this for sure! Waste not, want not
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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I’m so glad you ask. I was so happy about it I got out of bed to take a picture of one. I like to let them get around six inches long before cutting them. Then you stick the full length of the stalk in water. Give it two weeks and you’ll see roots! At that point pot it up just as deep, keep it watered and in a shady spot. Harden off normally and plant.
The first pic I just took. Second were some larger ones. Third is a cucumber done the same way. I plant them close so when they need thinned I just make a new plant. I use no rooting hormone or anything else. Just water. Change the water every few days. My friends think I’m the nicest person when I offer to prune their plants! If they only knew.
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From a tall shot glass just now!
From a tall shot glass just now!
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A bit larger.
A bit larger.
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Cucumber done the same way!
Cucumber done the same way!
 
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Hog panels.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Location: King William, VA
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Scott Stiller wrote:Sadly, I don’t have a method. Years ago I saw that a midwestern farm was using oyster mushrooms. They were getting rid of Tree of Heaven though. I’m not sure if it would work on privet but it may be worth a try. They would strip the very top layer of bark off leaving the cambium layer intact. Then drill holes in a diamond shaped pattern and insert the plugs. The tree didn’t know it was in trouble so it never sent the signal to sprout more trees from its extensive root system. Damn, I need to try this! I truly haven’t thought about this in years. It’s certainly worth a try. The tree gave up mushrooms until the day it died.



Wow, that is a great idea.  I have tree of heaven issues too!
 
Scott Stiller
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Here you go Joshua. I’m on my phone and don’t know how to send links from it. The first pic is my google search. How to kill tree of heaven with oyster mushrooms and the link I was looking for was the first.
Second is a video where they show how to do it.
If you ever post anything about your progress please send me a message so I’m sure to see it!
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