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Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

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Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 8:05 pm

I have some Better Boy hybrids in my box and I naively thought that I could just stake them when the time came. At this point, I think in the next few weeks they'll be so big that they'll tip over (mostly from foilage at this point). I have some left over lathe wood and sawed off a few six inch pieces and stuck them in the ground and have been able to "prop" the plants off the ground and direct them away upwards. Is propping the plants a legitimate solution or just a temporary fix? I didn't realize that the process of staking is performed "day one" and is not something you do later on. However, it seems to work. . .

A cage is out of the question at this point and I don't really have the skills to start building frames or the desire to crisscrossing the garden with ropes and the like.

Also for future reference, are cages ok for squarefoot gardens? I bought a trellis fence but I have too many tomato plants that it'd only work for the ones on the back row. Maybe in the future I should stake/cage but at this point I have the present to deal with. Thanks guys!

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  camprn on 4/14/2013, 8:27 pm

Propping is temporary. I use a variety of supports for tomatoes. Standard surveyors stakes, strapping for Florida weave trellis system and an overhead string system.
I suggest you will need to think of something soon, as the plants grow large and then get heavy with fruit, they will require support.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 8:40 pm

What do you recommend for a noob? My consruction skills are limited but if need be I could try something.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  camprn on 4/14/2013, 8:56 pm

@dcowboys107 wrote:What do you recommend for a noob? My consruction skills are limited but if need be I could try something.
You will need a 5 foot stake and some string or twine for each plant.
Here is some more information about the Big Boy Tomato

Do you have the All New Square Foot Gardening book yet?
you may also benefit from some other gardening books. In this thread are a bunch of books mentioned that are very good.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 9:05 pm

Thanks for the advice. I thought I was between a rock and a hard place. Wasn't sure if I could stake because I didn't want to damage the roots but I bought them partially grown a month ago so I guess the roots aren't overly developed. Regardless, I think I can handle staking.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  camprn on 4/14/2013, 9:17 pm

Oops! I sent the wrong link, here is the correct link for the Better Boy tomato.
http://myfolia.com/plants/10-tomato-solanum-lycopersicum/varieties/6259-better-boy

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 9:23 pm

Should root damage be a concern at this point or should I be alright? I'll do my best to stay far enough away from the roots. Thanks for the link too!

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  camprn on 4/14/2013, 9:31 pm

@dcowboys107 wrote:Should root damage be a concern at this point or should I be alright? I'll do my best to stay far enough away from the roots. Thanks for the link too!
They will be alright. Tomato plants are root making machines. Pound the stake in about 2"-3" away from the main stem.
Seriously, get yourself to the library or the bookstore for some basic garden books. You won't regret the learning and the knowledge will have you enjoying your garden more. What a Face

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  Pepper on 4/14/2013, 9:33 pm

Hello dcowboys107 , you could do something like Mel suggests use EMT tubing with 90 degree corner pieces. The better boys can get 9 ft tall if I remember right.
You would need these items from Home Depot or Lowes:
3 pieces of 3/4 inch EMT( this is electrical conduit comes in 10 ft lengths)
2 5/8 inch ground rod ( about the same cost as rebar but reusable)
1 roll of nylon string
2 90 degree corner elbows (see pic below)

How to:
1 Drive the ground rods in the ground so as to center the tomato plants between them. About 3 to 4 feet deep.
2 Attach one of the corner pieces to an end of the EMT tighten the screw lock it in place. Do this with two pieces of the EMT.
3 Cut the last piece of EMT so that it will connect the corner pieces across the top of the tomato plants. It cuts easily with a hack saw.
4 Assemble all the EMT then place the long 'open ends on the ground rods.
5 Tie the string between the two EMT poles down low toward the bottom of the plant.
6 Tie a string to the top 'bar' that is long enough to also tie to the bottom string. You will use this to wrap around the plant to "string trellis it.
It will look like this:


We live in the same area; close enough that I could help you. PM me if you want to get together and do it.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 9:51 pm

I have the second edition SFG book and was a bit intimidated at first but after building the boxes and filling them with dirt I was amazed at how much I've been able to grow. I just get anxious that I'll mess up little things like staking and not accomplished what I should have. But it's a science so every year I'll take what I've learned and improve on it.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  Pepper on 4/14/2013, 9:54 pm

I have Better Boy indeterminates, Bonnie's web site ( http://m.bonnieplants.com/Varieties/tabid/61/ID/41/categoryId/29/Better-Boy.aspx ) says 5 to 8 feet tall.
It further states: "Support plants on 8-foot stakes, a tall trellis, or a sturdy wire cage to keep fruit off the ground. This keeps the fruit clean and helps keep the tomato plants healthy. You may need to tie individual stems to the cage or a stake as they weigh down with the extra-large fruit." "Fruit size is 16 ounces at harvest".

Camprn, I am not trying to challenge your knowledge; I happen to have 3 of them this year.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 10:01 pm

Good advice, I think I'll have to do the staking method because I have two rows where the arch method will work but I have another that is a row by itself. I guess I'll have to get an 8 foot pole and a rail road tie and some twine, right?

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  Pepper on 4/14/2013, 10:11 pm

You could use an EMT pole for each plant. Then use women's stockings/hose pieces to tie it with. You would need to borrow a tall ladder to drive it into the ground. I think the poles are about two dollars a piece.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 10:32 pm

Will driving it down six inches into the soil create enough support for the pole?

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  yolos on 4/14/2013, 10:47 pm

@dcowboys107 wrote:Will driving it down six inches into the soil create enough support for the pole?
If you are talking about EMT, the answer is no because the EMT is too heavy. Just my opinion. But pepper is more experienced with the EMT so he may have a different answer.

It also depends on the type of soil you are driving it into. Being in Ga, it is probably red clay. But 6 inches is still not enough in my opinion.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  Pepper on 4/14/2013, 10:51 pm

I do NOT think so. You probably have 6 inches of Mel's Mix or some other added soil that is soft. I would think you would need at least 2 feet. These babies will have tomatoes that weigh 1 lb each; no telling how many. Rebar is a little cheaper than ground rod if you get short pieces say four to five feet. Drive that in the ground then slip the emt over it. You would use 1/4 rebar for 1/2 in emt; or 5/8 rebar for 3/4 emt.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  Pepper on 4/14/2013, 10:59 pm

rebar or ground rod has the advantage of being hard enough to drive into the clay we have around here. It can also be removed to be used later in a different spot; which is why I use it. I have sandy clay soil. I have a 1 foot section of RXR track I use to drive with so it goes real fast. Rebar deforms when you drive it so you may not be able to get the emt over it after driving it, unless you cut it off after. If you are on rock everything changes.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/14/2013, 11:28 pm

Hmm well the middle tomatoes won't be able to be staked since 6 in of MM will not suffice. Guess I'll stick with the propping method.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  bowhuntaz on 4/15/2013, 12:46 am

I've done the better boy hybrid, and had them trained to 6' rebar stakes that still weren't enough, even driven a foot into the concrete like soil i have.
Look up caliche, and you'll get an idea...
I pruned mine ruthlessly, trained them vertically, and they still got stupid on me, bushing out and trying to take over the place.
I started with 18 plants, but cut them back to just 6.
Mine produced enough from those 6 that i kept us in tomatoes and tomato products up till now, and i still have about 2 months worth in the pantry.
I drove my stakes just a couple inches from the main stem, and they never even missed a beat.
For a noob, relax, don't worry, take a deep breath, everything is fine.
The conduit idea is great, inexpensive, and simple to execute.
You may be able to find a hog panel or cattle panel, which is a really stout fence panel, in which case you could drive a T post at each end of your bed, tie the panel to the posts with wire, or baling twine (stout stuff!) And use that to train your tomatoes. You could easily double stack thefence panels to get you up to 8 feet of height too.
I see cattle panels locally for $35, 4x16', and that's for new ones.
Those often get damaged in transit, as they're heavy and bulky, making them pretty awkward to use a forklift on.
8' T posts are about 6 bucks at a farm and ranch store, or fence supply yard.
My horses push on the 7'long ones i have driven 2'into the ground, and they haven't bent yet. One horse scratches her bum on her favorite post every day, and it's fine.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  brainchasm on 4/15/2013, 2:25 am

I drove rebar into gravel, through caliche (a natural desert "concrete") inside the holes of cinder blocks. Just use a hammer...

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  camprn on 4/15/2013, 6:23 am

You could try the Florida weave to include those plants in the middle.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/15/2013, 1:03 pm

Ok so I need to get two ten foot tbars for the edges and a eight foot tbar for the middle? I'm trying to get the materials. I assume this will work right? The middle one will only be in six inches of MM but I don't think cinder blocks will work because of space. I'm trying the Florida twist method.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  Pepper on 4/15/2013, 1:41 pm

dcowboys107 you could use three sticks; lathe if you want; tie them together near the top spread them tripod style, for the plant in the middle. Really you could use them for all your tomatoes. That way sunk to the bottom of your mix would most likely be enough.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  camprn on 4/15/2013, 2:26 pm

How long is this lath that you all are talking about? thinking

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

Post  dcowboys107 on 4/15/2013, 3:00 pm

Lathe comes in like 5 foot segments I think.

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Re: Use lathe wood to prop tomatoes?

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