Growing Tomatoes on Twine
I’ve been growing tomatoes on twine since my market farming days. I don’t think it’s anymore work overall than cages. Our tomatoes are grown in the high tunnel on twine that is tied to the purlin. You can build a frame, tie twine to nails on the back porch, or do whatever works for you. Tomatoes don’t care what you use for the frame as long as they get enough sunlight (at least six hours a day).
The plants are about 15 inches apart. That’s unusually close for tomatoes but they’ll be fine. As the season progresses I’ll show you how to prune them specifically for growing this way. Proper pruning keeps the growth concentrated, directs energy to the tomatoes rather than unneeded leaves, and helps prevent disease.
Jute works as well as twine. Butcher string works well if you’re using clips. I’m not using clips, at least not yet, so you won’t see them pictured here. If the plants get too heavy with fruit I’ll have to order clips from Johnny’s.
Getting started, don’t wait too long like I did. I didn’t start growing tomatoes on twine this year until a plant had already fallen over. It wasn’t difficult to stand it up but it meant being careful with the bent vine so I wouldn’t snap it.
Tie a loop around the bottom of the stem being sure to leave enough room for growth. Wrap the twine loosely around the plant. As the plant grows the loose twine will become taught and you’ll need to connect them with a loop of twine or clip. We’ll get to that here when my plants get to that point. This is a Jet Star plant, my favorite plain old round, red tomato. There are peppers behind the tomato, and they really aren’t as washed out and yellow as they look here.
Ooopsie daisy. Let’s stand you up, little tomato plant.
You can see the bend in the stem where the plant started to grow up toward the sun after it fell over. It will straighten itself out in a few days. This is all you need to do to get started. As the plants grow I’ll add more instructions. We’re going to prune them heavily to keep them under control and help prevent diseases like early and late blight.
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