Peak into a few backyards in the summertime, and you may find gorgeous, red tomatoes, ripe on the vine and ready for harvest. Traditionally, gardeners use metal cages or stakes to keep their tomato plants upright. Yet, many are now finding that these methods can be unstable, lead to uneven sunlight exposure, or other nuisances. Now more than ever, gardeners are trying a new method to grow their tomatoes upright: they are bending and tying tomato plants’ rubbery stems on a flat plane. Using a flat plane can offer what stakes and cages cannot: more stability, even sunlight exposure, a decreased likelihood of fungal disease, increased air circulation, less drooping, and an easier time spotting pests.
Below are two methods for growing and stabilizing tomatoes on a flat plane. You may find that these eye-catching methods are very easy to implement in your own backyard, and we hope they inspire you to think outside the box when it comes to growing food.
An arbor or a backyard archway is a unique and beautiful instrument for growing tomatoes, and can provide plenty of support.
How to: Much like you would use a trellis, plant the tomatoes at the bottom of the arbor. Gradually train your tomato plant to climb the arbor by weaving the stems in and out of the support bars, and tying and twisting the flexible stems up and over the archway. Be sure to prune or tie loose stems that meander away from the arbor. Trellises and lattices can also make gorgeous arbors during the summer growing season.
A Wire Fence
Wire fences are commonly already available in many backyards. Using it for a tomato plant is a great way to create a “living wall” for you and your neighbors to admire.
How to: If you already have a wire fence – you’re set! If you’d like, you can enforce the fence stability further by attaching “hog wire” or “horse corral panels” commonly found at animal feed stores. To get started, plant the tomatoes at the bottom of the wire fence. As the tomato plant grows, the trick is to weave and tie the branches as wide as possible. This will provide stable support, and even sun exposure. Soft ties, hooks and twine can also help to ensure the plant stays securely on the fence. Feel free to prune or redirect plants up and over the fence if they grow too tall.
Other Flat Plane Ideas:
*Grow tomatoes up a nice lattice or trellis.
*Create a “bridge” by leaning two wire mesh panels against one another (wire the top for stability). Grow tomatoes on the top surface of the “bridge.”
*Weave tomato plants up a gazebo or similar structure for a unique look.