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Monday, June 14, 2010

Supporting the Tomatoes

The newest dilemma in the new garden area is this: how shall I support the tomatoes? The old cages are no longer suitable. Last time I used them we had a tomato jungle: the plants grew so tall they fell over the sides of the cages, and then the wire cages broke through the stems. They were getting close to six feet tall, and the conical cages were only 48 inches in height.

Last year I planted tomatoes in the wrong place and too close together. They didn't get enough sun, and they fought each other for space and water and nutrients from the soil. We didn't get hit with the blight, but it was not a good year for tomatoes.

I've ruled out the wire cages. I'm using the old trellises to support the peas. Now what? I did a search (on swagbucks, check the link in the right sidebar), and found several options.

Tomato ladders. There's a neighbor who uses these, and I like the looks of the product. They're strong, they're thick, and they're coated steel (no vine breakage!). But I'd need ten at least, and at a cost of $50 for a package of three... deep breath.
Tomato towers. This is also expensive. Could we make our own? Do I have time? Does Chuck have time? I found something similar in a local hardware for $5 apiece.
Tomato Spirals. Now these look intriguing. At $35 for a set of five, this is more affordable. I can use the t-shirt tie-ups from last year if I need them.
Here's a combination of two philosophies: the tomato spiral cage. Again, expensive to purchase outright.

Now the challenge: finding and buying these. I'd much rather buy locally. I've checked two hardware stores, a garden specialty store, and two big box stores with garden sections. So far, no luck. At least, no luck that I'd consider affordable. If I spend too much, we're approaching the $64 Tomato mark, and that's just not reasonable. I know most of these products would last for years, but I still need to make the initial investment now.

There are two stores left on my list, and then I might give in and order online - or create something entirely different.

Ideas, gardener friends? Suggestions? I'm listening.

This was posted yesterday at Compost Happens. I'm reposting it, hoping for input. Thanks!