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Grow Tomatoes Vertically

Cut a spacer board with notches to hold the trellis apart near the top, so the trellis bows out away from the aisle to give more space to walk.

Cut a spacer board with notches to hold the trellis apart near the top, so the trellis bows out away from the aisle to give more space to walk.
Paul Thompson, ©2019, Clemson Extension

If you have tried growing tomatoes in cages that often fall over when the plant gets large, or you are tired of keeping up with staking and tying tomatoes, then this might be a tip for you.

I have been growing vegetables in raised beds for a couple of decades. To save space, I have always grown pole beans and cucumbers on trellises that go across the walkways between the beds. In this way, the vines are growing in-between the beds and only take up a few inches along the edge.

A couple of years ago, I started growing tomatoes this way as an alternative to cages or stakes that can often be aggravating. Each trellis is made from one 4 ft. by 16 ft. cattle fence panel. These are are available at farm supply stores for around $20.00, and they are made from heavy-gauged galvanized wire.

To make the trellis, use bolt cutters to remove the center 4 ft. wire in the middle of the panel, so that you have two 4 ft. x 8 ft. panels, each with prongs on one end. Push the prongs of one of the panels into the soil just inside one of the beds and do the same with the other panel directly across the aisle into the next bed. Bring the tops together and secure with four zip ties. Cut a spacer board with notches to hold the trellis apart near the top, so the trellis bows out away from the aisle to give more space to walk.

As the tomato plant grows taller than the next horizontal wire, push it through the hole under the wire.

As the tomato plant grows taller than the next horizontal wire, push it through the hole under the wire.
Paul Thompson, ©2019, Clemson Extension

Plant your tomato plants close to and in the center of each trellis in bed. As the plant grows taller than the next horizontal wire, push it through the hole under the wire. You can also train suckers sideways first and as the plants grow, train them further up the trellises

Depending on the variety, the plants may grow to the top of the trellis, and when they get larger, you can stand in the shade of the trellis arch to pick your tomatoes.

For more information about growing tomatoes, please see HGIC 1323 Tomato.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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