51 responses

  1. renae
    June 3, 2010

    Did you draw the trellis at the end of the post? Very nice. Compost clods… ugh.

  2. Tom
    June 3, 2010

    Renae, why yes I did. It’s a little Rousseau meets Grandma Moses.

  3. chris
    June 3, 2010

    Tom, great post. The drawing is nice too! I have seen this method used with great results.

  4. Sophie
    June 3, 2010

    That’s a great idea, Tom!!

    I will do that with my 3 tomato plants!! they are growing higher every day. One plant is already nearly 2 meters high!

  5. June
    June 5, 2010

    How clever you are, Tom! When I get a look at your garden, I swoon. Your tomatoes are so pampered. I love your system. (And I especially love that shot of Boz lying in the soft, tilled soil: oh, the order, the sheer potential of good earth and rain and sunshine!) My own garden is a fortress of chicken wire and garden fleece and… Well, it’s ugly. That’s just the plain truth. Maybe it’s because I don’t start with a beautiful rendering with pen and ink. Yeah. Maybe.

    You remain my hero!

  6. Tom
    June 5, 2010

    June, I’m blushing. If it’s any consolation, the inside of the house is anything but orderly. Thanks for your very kind words. Tomorrow we are expecting a heatwave, uh, that would be 72 degrees. So in go the squash, pumpkins, eggplant and tomatillos, oh yes and my favorite aspirational fruits…melons.

  7. Holly
    June 5, 2010

    Looks great Tom!! Wow, that’s a whole lotta tomatoes! Looks fabulous!

  8. Thomas
    June 5, 2010

    I’m trying the same trellising system for the first time this year. I see they are working well for you.

    I used plastic tomato clips but really like your foam twisties. Where did you get them?

  9. Tom
    June 5, 2010

    Hi Thomas, I picked up the foam wire ties at our island True Value. They’re pretty easy to find at most hardware stores or garden centers.

    Here’s a link to the brand I used: http://www.idealtruevalue.com/servlet/the-142191/Detail

  10. Sustainable Eats
    June 6, 2010

    Hi Tom, this is such a great inexpensive and easily stored solution. Have you ever considered making hand drawn garden cards? I’d buy them! Useful facts and garden art in one.

  11. Dorie
    June 7, 2010

    Great post Tom! I especially LOVE your bullies. Could just eat them up :)

    • Tom
      June 7, 2010

      Dorie, I believe an appreciation of bullies (English, French or otherwise) is a sign of high intelligence. Boz and Gracie surely concur. Thank you for the compliment. -TC

  12. brion
    June 7, 2010

    Tom – Will and I are growing pickle cuc’s. I’ve got them in a long linear container, looks likw a window box. Can i trellis these?

  13. Tom
    June 7, 2010

    You bet Brion, cukes love to climb. And since they’re in a container, I’d fertilize them, too, say every couple weeks, with a diluted liquid fertilizer.

  14. brion
    June 7, 2010

    Tom – Will has already been fertilizing them with a fairly diluted stream of uric acid.

  15. Tom
    June 8, 2010

    Brion…apparently the acorn does not fall far from the tree. ;-)

  16. rowena
    June 8, 2010

    I may have to consider trellising next year just to simplify things in the garden. It’s getting to the point where I’m finding that I have to buy an extra dozen or so bamboo poles each year to support whatever is growing/climbing in the plot!

  17. Tom
    June 8, 2010

    Buon Giorno…Mahalo…Rowena, if you ever need stakes, look for any freshly cut stumps in the woods. Usually they have straight saplings springing from the base of the trunk. They make keen stakes.

  18. Yolanda
    June 13, 2010


    This is lovely! I tried it yesterday, but I fear my wire is not strong enough to support the plants. What guage wire did you use?


  19. Tom
    June 13, 2010

    Hi Yolanda, I used some 14 gauge and some 12 gauge wire left over from my grape trellis. It’s heavy enough to use year after year.

  20. Steve
    November 12, 2010

    Tom, what an interesting site.
    What is the maximum distance you place your T stakes for your tomaotes?

  21. Tom
    November 12, 2010

    Hi Steve, mine are between 40 – 50 feet apart.

  22. Steve
    November 13, 2010

    Another question Tom.
    Did you have any problem with your wire sagging when the tomatos reached maturity and pulling your T post inward?

  23. Steve
    November 13, 2010

    One more Tom,
    Do you weave your plants up the wires?

  24. Steve
    November 13, 2010

    Change up to through on last message.

  25. Tom
    November 14, 2010

    Hi Steve, the posts were 8′ t-posts driven in the ground 2′ so no they did not bend inward, but maybe an inch or two. And yes, I would weave the plants up through the wires and also tie them to the wires where needed for support.

  26. Ed Macose
    January 3, 2011

    Sir Tom,

    I am in charge of extension and training programs of our college. I could share your trellis system to our farmers. That’s great.


  27. Tom
    January 3, 2011

    Thanks Ed, and I appreciate the esteemed title “Sir.” Yep, I could get used to that.

  28. Amy
    March 17, 2011

    What kind of wire is best for this and what is the ideal distance between the two posts? Thanks, Amy

    • Tom
      March 18, 2011

      Amy, I was using 10 to 12 gauge as I had some leftover from grape trellising, but that’s a bit of overkill. I recommend 14 or 16 gauge as it’s easy to handle and bend. My posts were 50 feet apart, but I have extended them to as far as 75 feet, as that was the length of my planting row.

  29. Drew
    March 27, 2011

    Amazing, Tom! Really. SO I have a small 10×10 plot in a city garden. How close together can I can I plant these tomato plants with this system?

  30. Tom
    March 27, 2011

    Hi Drew, I plant mine about 3 feet a part, but then again I have a large garden.

    I’d think you could get away with 5 tomato plants in a ten foot row or say two feet apart. Paste, cherry and grape types can be more crowded than the big beefsteaks. Hope this helps. The good news is when tomatoes are stressed a bit, you get more fruit. When lavished with fertilizer tons of space you get some nice leaves. ;-) Good luck!

  31. Carl Bunn
    April 3, 2011

    I grow 80-85 Tom plants of all kind every year-great idea to save space-C.B.

  32. Nicky
    May 12, 2011

    I’m so glad I found your site via Katie at gardenhoard.com! I love this tomato trellis and am going to give it a try. Thank you, Nicky

  33. Ross
    June 6, 2011

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your post. I built the trellis for my tomatoes over the weekend! It turned out great. I had some old vinyl covered laundry line laying around and used that instead of wire….looks good!

  34. Alice
    June 16, 2011

    Hi Tom,
    I was thumbing through your posts on your blog and Im trying to figure out a problem with my tomato plants, maybe you can shed some light? The tops are yellowing a bit and I dont know what that means. There are some pictures of each of my three tomato plants on my blog called “tomatoes” and earlier blogs on “gardening” have pictures from when they first were brought home and transplanted. Can you shed any light?

    • Tom
      June 17, 2011

      Hi Alice, I checked out your lovely blog — great stuff. Now about your tomatoes yellowing. It can be a lot of things, but I think I’d focus on two, either too much water or a nutrient deficiency in the soil. Here’s what I’d do. Wait for the soil to dry out a bit, that is maybe even wait until the toms droop a little and are telling you, “we need water.” See if that practice doesn’t facilitate a rebound. At that time maybe maybe add a liquid fertilizer too, say diluted to half strength so you don’t get all leaves and no toms.

      I think your soil may be a little moisture retentive as I saw the squash plant with brown tips, and that in most cases is a sign of over watering in a soil that is poor on drainage.
      Good luck, remember, tomatoes like a little stress. Often time pampered plants have lush foliage and few toms, and horrible looking plants have gorgeous toms.

  35. Sharon
    July 18, 2011

    Tom, Have you considered a bamboo trellis? We have too many plants for your gorgeous trellis, and they got too big. I made a sort of lean to of bamboo rods and just let the toms lay themselves over the frame as they grew! Much of the fruit dangled through easily reached and it supported lots of weight. Love your blog came for figs stayed for everything else!

  36. Cate
    August 24, 2011

    Yes! This is my method as well. Great minds think alike! It works great and is far less expensive than caging. Also, I can get at the tomateys a lot better, which is very important.

  37. Dawn
    March 16, 2012

    I am so happy I found this page :) I was all set to buy wood to make folding tomato ladders… then I quickly googled “tomato trellis” (I used jute and it didn’t hold up as well as I would have liked last year) and lo and behold! A couple stakes and wire! I already have the stakes and my husband and I are in construction and readily have 9 gauge ceiling wire on hand all the time :) I’ve used the wire for so many other things, but it never crossed my mind for trellis’ until now!!! Thanks for stretching my imagination!

  38. Nancy
    April 12, 2012

    Hi Tom, I happened on to your site a few days ago while looking for ideas for trellising green beans……….I love it! You seemingly are living the life that many of us can only dream of! LOVE the peach farm house! Perhaps you’ll be like the gal who decided to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook and then create a blog about it……….they made it into a movie, right? I can see it now, it will be Tom, his 2 bulldogs and his tomatoes, making ketchup in the kitchen! Take 52!! Get that makeup guy over here on Tom! ;-) One question about tomatoes…..what’s your answer for those absolutely disgusting tomato worms that appear and them double in size over night? Would they just continue getting bigger and bigger until they are the size of small dogs? I’m told to just cut them in half……..even more disgusting! Then I read online to collect them in a bag and put them in the freezer to kill them humanely……..seriously? No gross worms in my freezer, thank you! What do YOU do, Tom? Also, please forgive me for asking an off-topic question……..your writing is most eloquent……not that of your typical male of the human species……..you have to either be a writer, an actor, or perhaps a retired English teacher?? If you care to share, I’m dying to know! And keep writing! I’m checking your site daily! P.S. I’ve got 2 little canines of my own, who also assist in my garden……long-haired chihuahuas. :-)

  39. Nancy
    July 16, 2012

    I was looking for an easy way to trellis my toms when I came across your website.
    With luck this year they are doing well despite my lack of attention, so much so that their little arms were touching the ground and needed support. Using some basic info gleaned from your site I was able to transform my raised bed plants to a respectable and attractive piece of earth.
    Thanks, Nancy in NC

  40. Deborah
    March 15, 2013

    Hi there, as silly as this may sound, I would like to try to grow cherry tomatoes espaliered on lattice (as I have a very small yard and a place beside the lattice where I can place some plants. The lattice faces south. Do you think I am wasting my time?

    • Tom
      March 15, 2013

      Hi Deborah, I would say go for it. Cherry tomatoes go crazy with growth no matter where they seem to be planted. Sungold for instance is my most prolific producer. Since the lattice faces south, they’ll get plenty of sun. And most cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, meaning they will grow taller and taller, which is want you want on a trellis or lattice. Good Luck, and don’t fertilize too much if at all or you’ll have all plant and no tomatoes. Good Luck! Here’s to your first fresh salad!

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