Tomato towers will help your tomatoes grow to their full potential.
Photo courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
Of all the methods devised to support tomato plants,
nothing compares to homemade, solid, woven-wire towers.
Start with a roll of 4" x 4" or 6" x 6" woven wire
fencing. Anything smaller than 4" x 4" makes it difficult
to reach through the wires to harvest ripe fruit. Woven
wire comes in widths ranging from 40" to 5' high: Get the
widest you can find. Some garden centers sell fencing whose
openings increase in size as they move upwards. That is,
they start out with a row or two of openings measuring 2" x
4" then enlarge to 4" x 4" and eventually reaching as big
as 6" x 8". Making towers with this size mesh is more time
consuming, but it actually makes a more durable structure.
Cut a section 4' long with the end wires on one side
sticking out without a vertical wire. Bend these wires into
open hooks, about 1" long.
Roll the wire into a cylinder and use the hooks to grab
the vertical wire on the far end. Then squeeze the hooks
closed with pliers. That's all it takes.
To anchor the tower there are two options: You can cut the
bottom horizontal wire off, which will provide the tower
with 8 to 12 legs, 4" to 6" long. Merely push these into
the ground and they will hold most plants with no danger of
falling. If you use wire that increases in mesh size from
bottom to top, this method will not work because the legs
will be only 2" long - not enough to stabilize the tower.
Alternately, you can either stake or pin the tower in
place. To pin it, bend heavy-duty wire, such as from a coat
hanger, into a hairpin shape that's at least 6" long. Use
three or four of these to anchor the tower in place.
For tomatoes, anchor the tower in place as soon as you
transplant the seedlings. That way, none of the branches
will grow too big before you get the support in place. Keep
the seedling as centered as possible.
Tomato towers are useful for other plants as well. You can,
for instance, plant a ring of pea seeds around an anchored
tower, then train them to grow up the wire. This method
works best with shorter-vined varieties. For longer vines,
a trellis or A-frame support makes more sense.