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Trellising Tomatoes

Hey you!

What are you doing this weekend?

Do you live in the flat barren keeping up with the Jones land of suburbia and want to start a vegetable garden but haven’t?

What are you waiting for?!

I’ve been slacking with the this years Gardening posts. And not because I don’t want to talk about the candidates for the potential crop of mystery bugs that Mother Nature will surely descend upon this years garden as the surprise “I didn’t know you could kill my cucumbers in 3 daysย bug of the season. But because I’ve actually been spending more time outside this summer vs oh on my computer reading and *cough* writing hundreds of blog entries.

And I decided to simplify this years vegetable garden from all the lessons I learned from starting my gardenย last year. That’s a post I’m working on.

So I present this years Suburban Backyard Vegetable Garden.

suburban vegetable garden

This year I decided to try a new way of growing tomatoes. Instead of using last years cages, we built a trellis.

We got three pieces of 2 x 2’s of pine wood, water sealed them and then made the world’s easiest basic frame within the garden bed.

It’s a modified version of the A-Frame Trellis but we don’t need the other half of the “A” because of where it is located in the garden. If you want a great Pro and Con list of using cages vs stakes vs trellises for your tomatoes, go read the write up that Tomato Headquarters did on it.

It wound up like this.

Building the Tomato Trellis

Then like the easyย bean trellis, I just tied twine vertically down it.ย I was not a happy camper (funny because me and camping are so not friends) with last years tomato cages because inside the cages towards the end of the season I was left with tons of unripened green tomatoes that were shaded by the foliage surrounding the cage.

I also got smarter with my gardening this year and did a quasi square foot garden. I say quasi because I doubled the square feet of each block. So technically I should call it a rectangular foot garden. Doesn’t sound as nice mind you.

square foot gardening

The first crop of tomato’s I planted were destroyed by a hail snowstorm in May. Yes the month of May.

You know when you’re out for the Long Weekend (in Canada we call this May 24), we got SNOW around that time and quarter sized hail.

It did this to my tomato plants.

tomatoes killed by hail

Sad.

So I rescued what I could and replanted them into containers and then planted a whole new series of tomatoes.

And now they look like this. Even the sunbeams came out for the photo.

tomato trellis

DIY tomato trellis

All you do is wind and tie or clip the tomato stems to the twine as they grow. The trellis then helps to support the plants as they get bigger and makes it easier to prune foliage that can shade tomatoes.

I had read rumours of how this method also helps tomatoes to arrive sooner and increase your harvest. It’s not a rumour. I didn’t get tomatoes last year until July and even then they still weren’t ripened.

Here is the first one a full month early. Night and day difference from the cages of last year.

first tomato of the year

first tomato of the year (2)

first tomato of the year (3)

As for other parts, raspberries in full bloom.

raspberries

My salad bar – lettuce, radishes and bush beans.

lettuce

Snow peas.

snow peas

And the salvaged tomatoes that I did put in with cages because they’re in containers and they’re taking a lot longer to grow.

trying to revive tomato plants

This year my gardening mantra is to keep it simple. Because I am too busy with other things.

Like hanging out with my lovely Little C.

backyard fun

Who is discovering the fun of a sprinkler.

backyard fun (3)

And then we do it all again the next day…

summer

Summer priorities people.

Always remember your priorities.

24 Comments

  • Reply
    Janet
    July 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

    You are so smart ๐Ÿ™‚
    I would never have thought of a trellis for tomatoes. I always use tomato cages.
    I have been WAY better this year about pruning suckers from my tomato plants and that’s helping, but I only have green tomatoes so far.

    Thanks for the info – I’m going to try it next year.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Oh Janet I wish this was my idea. I came across it online while looking at the pros and cons of tomato cages and the post I linked to with the A-frame Tomato trellis caught my eye. It makes a lot of sense b/c of the pruning and all the tomatoes inside the cages. I have 2 in the cages so I’ll see what does a better turn out at the end of the season to really compare.

  • Reply
    Steve
    July 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Delishious tomatoes!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

      As opposed to say Fried Green Tomatoes…I couldn’t bring myself to do it last Fall.

  • Reply
    Victoria โ€ข Restoring our Victorian
    July 4, 2013 at 10:31 am

    We have had SO MUCH rain here, that something in the garden smells rotten. I haven’t figured out what yet, but I’m actually wondering if it’s the leaf mulch. But it’s been great as far as not watering!

    Like above, I only still have green ones… not sure how you’re winning the tomato race up in Canada. Hmph.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Oh we’re the same. It’s just a downpour. I’m sitting typing this trying to find a Plan B for my kids b/c apparently who needs a splash pad when it’s pouring outside.

      Apparently Stacey said they had tons in Texas but I know that’s not a good comparison b/c you guys have different climates.

  • Reply
    Jeanette @ This Dusty House
    July 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Hmm… will have to consider this for next year’s garden! I’m using tomato cages again this year, but, surprise, surprise, just like last year they’re bursting out the top of them. And, only green little tomatoes and lots of blossoms at this point. I’m impressed you’ve got a red one already!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Do you know what I did last year? I put 2 cages on top of each other to make them taller. It seemed like a great idea til I wound up having to create a spiderweb of twine to attach them to the fence to prevent them from toppling over. This year, pruning. LOTS of pruning. I don’t know where the red ones are coming from. Believe me even I’m wondering what’s going on.

  • Reply
    Lynne Knowlton
    July 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    If some of your tomatoes are missing…. I have no idea where they went. Just sayin’. I love tomatoes. Gimme your address ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:07 am

      I have your address. If I could can them properly I’d mail you some sauce. But let’s be serious now, me making food is a 50/50 chance of it being edible. And then I’ll blog about it.

  • Reply
    Kate
    July 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Love it Alex – looks both professional and edible; an unusually appealing combination ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now all you need is a plague of locusts; watch the skies like a hawk…

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

      I’m telling you Kate, there is some rodent or some bug that is just waiting to come visit when we’re on vacation. I just haven’t met them yet.

  • Reply
    Jessica@CapeofDreams
    July 5, 2013 at 1:39 am

    My tomato plants just aren’t growing this year, and I don’t know why. As far as I know, I haven’t done anything different, but they are only a foot or so high. No tomatoes in sight. Sigh.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Booo! I am so new to gardening (which is why I blog about my trials and errors in hopes of helping other people) but last year this was me with my radishes. Everyone was like They’re super easy to grow. I was lucky to get a batch the size of peas.

  • Reply
    the home tome
    July 5, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Way to regroup and start over with those tomatoes! The twine trellis is brilliant!

    The sprinkler and the slide into the pool look refreshing indeed! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 10:12 am

      We need a bigger pool. But our backyard is slanted. Our neighbours behind us would kill us everytime we emptied it.

  • Reply
    now at home mom
    July 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

    ๐Ÿ™‚ hmmmm…. maybe I should be your neighbor Alex! ๐Ÿ™‚ I would never be able to grow beautiful tomatoes, this year I am trying to grow some spices in our kitchen! this is the best I can do! ๐Ÿ™‚ & here too, I am spending a lot of time outside with Nate, he loves the sprinkler, better than being stuck inside! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      Do you find summer makes it hard to blog? I am almost never home and when I am it’s late or there is dinner chaos or cleaning. Spices are great! I cannot wait for the day our kitchen resembles a usable kitchen so I can decorate it and grow herbs on my window ledge.

      • Reply
        now at home mom
        July 8, 2013 at 10:05 am

        Yes, I find it very hard to blog in summer with Nate, I love taking him to the park and now he is always asking for his “shoooos” (shoes) so he can play in our yard. Shooos is now one of his favourite words ha!ha! ๐Ÿ™‚ last Friday we found out he has chickenpox, he got it from a kids birthday party!
        like you when I’m home, it’s time to clean, laundry and cook ๐Ÿ™‚ &
        once again I’m behind my e-mails
        hope you will have a great week with your little ones! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Stacey
    July 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Your garden is fabulous, Alex! I’m like Jessica at Cape of Dreams… not a great year for us either. We’ve had a garden every year and they produced enough to feed ourselves and so many others. This year was a bust. Only the grape and cherries were yummy. I’m JEALOUS, lady. Enjoy those raspberries. Will we be seeing Jam or cobbler?

  • Reply
    cheryl
    July 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Ya know, I’ve done absolutely nothing with my veg garden this year. I am so sad about that, but hopeful that I’ll get a fall garden in with a few cold boxes. I did work on the front garden beds, the beds full of nasty contractor bushes that are now the beginnings of a cottage garden.

    I LOVE the idea of a tomato trellis, and yours is so beautiful! I love how you’re maintaining your modern aesthetic even in your garden.

  • Reply
    David Ruszkowski
    November 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I know what you mean about being busy we hardly had much of anything in our vegetable garden this year.

    Next year I hope to have better luck, a friend of mine just launched a project on Kickstarter that is a “vegetable support system for the home gardener”. It is kind of a neat product in that it supports your plants from overhead, which solves the problem of a tomato plant outgrowing the tomato cage and falling over (also because of the weight of the fruit. It also works for cucumbers and other vegetables as well. It looks pretty easy to set up, I can’t wait to try it out.

  • Reply
    Ann
    July 15, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Haha these photos are very cute, especially the last one with summer party! Love your garden a lot! I want to make a trellis in the garden and it’s great to read your tips! Thanks a lot! P.s the tomatoes look really amazing!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you so much Ann! We’ve since moved and I really miss it.

    I love your comments!