Tomato Season – Keeping the Tomatoes OrganizedTomato planting time is upon us and in another 60 days or so it will be time to reap the rewards of our efforts. A few years back I designed and created a system to keep the tomatoes happy, healthy, and most important keep them in check during the growing season. I by nature am very organized; there is a place for everything and everything in its place. So of course the same holds true for the garden and the tomatoes. So to accomplish this I designed and installed what I call a Tomato Grille.
My goal behind the Tomato Grille was to make a structure that made the tomatoes accessible for harvesting and keep them upright and organized during the growing season. A secondary goal was to create something that was visually appealing and integrated well with the rest of the landscape.
The year prior to creating the Tomato Grille we had constructed a relatively substantial raised garden box configured in an “L” shape. In an effort to mimic the L shaped raised garden box I plotted out a complimentary L shaped area for the tomatoes just in front of the raised garden box. This created an area of roughly 32 square feet of growing space, enough for 6-7 tomato plants. In this growing area I established a 6-8” base of compost to serve as the growing medium.
The next step was to drive an assortment of cross beams I salvaged from a chain link fence and lodge pole pine into the ground at the corners and mid points of the L. The beams and pine were 4’ in height. To support the tomatoes as they grew I ran airline cable between the beams and pine and fastened the cables together with turn buckles. By using the turn buckles I can adjust the tension throughout the summer dependent on the weight of the stalks ripe with tomatoes.
When I plant tomatoes inside the Grille I pound a small stake in the ground next to them and tether the tomato to it to support the young plant while it finds it way. I also surround the plant with a small cage for the same reason as the stake. Utilizing this combination allows the tomato plant to be fully supported in all of its growth stages.
As the summer moves forward the tomato plants grow and bush out filling the Grille completely. This transforms the Tomato Grille into a very aesthetically pleasing hedge that serves as a beautiful backdrop to the garden.If interested in learning how Wheel & Barrow Landscape Design & Maintenance can assist you with your gardening needs please do not hesitate to contact by email, or by phone at 503.265.8959.