Saturday, June 5, 2010

Staking Tomatoes: Florida Weave Method

This year I'm trying something new to support my tomatoes.  The florida weave method.  I learned about this from a friend and although I was hesitant at first, when I saw that Johnny's Selected Seeds uses this method to grow rows and rows of tomatoes, I was sold.

The basic principle of the florida weave method is to place tall stakes every couple of tomato plants, then tie twine to one of the end stakes and weave it in and out of each tomato plant.  When you get to the stake at the other end, wrap the twine around it, then weave it in and out of the opposite side of the tomato plants.  When you're done, every tomato plant should have twine on both sides of it, pulling it tight and straight.  Then, every 10 days or so, add another level of twine.  Before you know it, you'll have a wall of tomatoes, easy to harvest fruit from.

Because I have limited space in my vegetable garden, I planted 6 tomatoes on an 8 foot row.  Tomatoes really need more like 3 feet of space each, but if I keep them tightly supported and properly pruned, they should still produce plenty in 18 inches.

You can use plain tall wood stakes or metal t-posts for the florida weave method.  I decided to use the t-posts because they're very sturdy and they'll last forever.  Plus, they have a built in hook every 8-10 inches which helps keep the twine secure.  Each t-post cost around $5.00 at the local hardware store.  I used plain twine that I can toss right into the compost when the garden is finished.

What is your favorite way to support tomatoes?

9 comments:

  1. Interesting! I've never heard of the "Florida weave" method. At first I thought you were talking about hair!

    I've used metal spiral stakes for years - awesome for indeterminate tomatoes, decorative, and also last forever.

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  2. I've just been using your standard metal cages. This though I like! I might try this next year.

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  3. I have used this method and it does work well with sturdy stakes which it appears you have. The little hooks should be great for this. The only thing I had trouble with was that my stakes weren't tall enough so I always had a "flop head" at the top. Using compostable twine is smart! It worked great for us. I found some collapsable tomato cages a couple of years ago and gave them a try. They do a good job and store easy for winter so I've switched because you do have to tie them up very regularily for a while.

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  4. I listen to them and speak encouragingly to them, lol! Seriously, I have so many I use whatever I have--metal stakes, plastic stakes, tomato cages, etc.

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  5. I'm thinking of using cross-wires with pantyhose connectors next year. I can' wait to see how your method works out. We are just using stakes and pantyhose this season.

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  6. Looking forward to seeing how you like this method. Last year I did homemade cages (thumbs down,) this year I'm trying tepees, (like it so far,) and next year I may try the weave.

    Your bed looks great Gina, and I love the peace sign ornament!

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  7. Found your blog yesterday. Great stuff. My tomatoes go in cages and also with metal stakes. Last year was my first with tomatoes and they got taller than I had expected, started to flop at the top near the end of the season. Repeating what I did last year, I've got 3 planted within 3 feet of each other and it worked great so I figured I'd give it another go. I read somewhere that they don't mind being a bit crowded or at least to touch each other, so maybe that's why.

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  8. I like this idea! Tomato cages only seem to work for a while, then they fall over under the weight. I've been hesitant to drive stakes right next to the plants too for fear of damaging the root system. I'll give this a shot.

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  9. How did the Florida weave work for you last summer? I am thinking about doing the Florida weave this year, but would really like to know how well it works.

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