For years I was like everyone else and I drove a stake into the ground before planting my tomato right up against it. As the plant grew I’d be there desperately trying to gather up all those vines and keep it off the ground.
Now I know that that method is without a doubt the worst method I’ve ever used. Previous to my current method I used to run lengths of rope between two star posts and thread the tomato vines through the rope, now I’m using an even easier method.
I had a few metres of left over fencing mesh that I’d used for growing beans up so I decided to leave it in place and plant my tomatoes along the foot of it. This is a length of dog wire mesh about two metres long.
I planted all my tomatoes about 40 centimetres apart and let them go. As the vines took off all I had to do was tie them, using grafting tape, to the wire. This method is a real time, and plant, saver.
It’s a time saver because you prune as you go and once tied any subsequent leaders can be holstered to the mesh or cut off. As I went along I removed about 75% of the leaves and pinched out any leaders I didn’t want from the indeterminate varieties.
It’s a plant saver because in our cool climate it’s important to get as much sun and warmth on your plants as you possibly can. This method, similar to espaliering, open the plants up to the sunshine and also helps control any number of pests and diseases.
When you bundle the vines up, you’re inviting all manner of problems. Those closed vines are the perfect place for bugs to wander around, for grubs to move in and because it’s nice and moist, all your viruses, rusts and mildews will thrive.
If you do get hit with any diseases, spraying the vines is dead easy. Walk along each side and you’ve got it nicely covered.