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Old April 18, 2017   #1
BakedIn
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Default Has anyone tried this variation on cattle panel tomato trellis

About to plant a couple hundred tomatoes in the next week or two, and I find myself ready to try another trellising system.
The last few years I've used large woven wire cages, they aren't bad I suppose. Prior to that I have used cattle panels but felt like it was way too much tying off and eventually parts of the plant will fall forward.

What I'm thinking might be the best system would be to place the cattle panel at an angle, like a solar panel and the tomato plant can sprawl up it without even having to tie it. I'm also imagining raising the panel off the ground about 8 inches so that the ground can be worked underneath without having to deal with the panel.
Do you understand what I'm talking about here?
What should I used to hold the bottom and any ideas on how the back may be held up? I have T posts but it seems like with this angled system the panel would just kind of be sitting there teetering unlike when the panel is flush with the T post.
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Old April 19, 2017   #2
Fritz77
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I think I do understand what you're talking about but it does sound very complicated to me. I use bamboo and it works pretty well for me. The only bad thing about it is that it doesn't last very long, so I have to replace my reeds every 2 seasons.
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Old April 19, 2017   #3
ddsack
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I understand what you are trying to do, but I don't think it will work without you having the same kind of maintenance you are trying to get away from. Most tomato plants really want to sprawl downward, they are not true vines that try to clutch onto support. As they go through the wires, most branches will naturally want to droop down with gravity as they get longer and heavier. Without you actively weaving them in back upward, they will just end up on the ground, even if you angle the panel.

If you want to try it, maybe you could use cement blocks to raise the bottom of the panel up to your angle. There are various masonry block configurations that might allow you to wire the panel to the blocks. You might have to sink short pieces of rebar in front of the blocks to keep them from slipping forward if the later season weight of the vines start pulling the panel down and out.

I remember reading about someone laying the raised up panels horizontally over the bed on four corner posts, and then adding horizontal stacked panels on top every few feet as the plants grow larger. I was wondering how easy it would be to harvest the tomatoes if you had to get in the middle of a set of horizontal panels.

I've used cattle panels vertically on my raised beds for over 20 years and really like the system. Would never go back to cages. But as you pointed out it does take a bit of maintenance to weave in or tie up branches as the plants grow. Since I walk my garden a couple times a day, it's not a big deal. Generally I have somewhere around 80 plants each season, although probably about 20 are in pots without panels. I love to see people experimenting and trying new methods, so if it works for you, please come back and tell me nya, nya!
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Old April 19, 2017   #4
BakedIn
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I like the looks of that system a lot. It's got all the elements, ease of setup and takedown. Plants are far along in the season and don't look a mess, so it looks like it keeps them trained, and it is cheap (if one has a bamboo source). And it looks like you have to do minimal tying.

A lot of systems I see can't really be scaled up affordably. Even cattle panels aren't cheap but I've already got them. So I'm gonna stay on that path this year I guess.

I got to thinking cinder blocks may be the key for me. I'll have to check how much those cost now. If I set two to three cinder blocks on the ground, per panel. Then set the bottom of the panel on top of those. Then lean the panels back at a 45 degree angle with the top being caught by T post, 4 ft (width of panel) behind the blocks, I might have to clamp something on top of the post to provide more surface area for the panel to attach to it. But once setup one I imagine it would be a system of extremely low maintenance and gravity would do most of the work. It sounds good on paper anyway. I'm gonna be messing with it today.
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Old April 19, 2017   #5
BakedIn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddsack View Post
I understand what you are trying to do, but I don't think it will work without you having the same kind of maintenance you are trying to get away from. Most tomato plants really want to sprawl downward, they are not true vines that try to clutch onto support. As they go through the wires, most branches will naturally want to droop down with gravity as they get longer and heavier. Without you actively weaving them in back upward, they will just end up on the ground, even if you angle the panel.

If you want to try it, maybe you could use cement blocks to raise the bottom of the panel up to your angle. There are various masonry block configurations that might allow you to wire the panel to the blocks. You might have to sink short pieces of rebar in front of the blocks to keep them from slipping forward if the later season weight of the vines start pulling the panel down and out.

I remember reading about someone laying the raised up panels horizontally over the bed on four corner posts, and then adding horizontal stacked panels on top every few feet as the plants grow larger. I was wondering how easy it would be to harvest the tomatoes if you had to get in the middle of a set of horizontal panels.

I've used cattle panels vertically on my raised beds for over 20 years and really like the system. Would never go back to cages. But as you pointed out it does take a bit of maintenance to weave in or tie up branches as the plants grow. Since I walk my garden a couple times a day, it's not a big deal. Generally I have somewhere around 80 plants each season, although probably about 20 are in pots without panels. I love to see people experimenting and trying new methods, so if it works for you, please come back and tell me nya, nya!
Yep, the masonry blocks occurred to me as probably the cheapest route available. Maybe turn on their side and put small piece of rebar in the hole to keep the panel from creeping forward.
You bring up a good point about the tomato plant habit though and throws a little water on the idea. I was thinking about planting the tomato in that small part of the angle so that it would grow up through one of the first big squares on the panel and grow upwards. But you're right, once it reached a certain point, it would probably head straight for the dirt, not up.
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Old April 19, 2017   #6
oakley
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I can't visualize without a pic. Just to add i've use the same system as Fritz since my
garden was built in '98. A bit different top crossing and very strong. My poles have lasted
much longer...from GardenersSupply. I get about five years before a split. The older
ones i use for the top horizontal.
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Old April 20, 2017   #7
Fritz77
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To be honest with you the picture I posted is not from my garden, as I didn’t take any picture of my trellising system last year. I use the same system though. My soil also doesn’t look as good as this one…
You may want to check out a thread I started a while ago. You could be able to get some good ideas for your garden. As you see, I had been debating on the same issue not too long ago.

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=43158


Bamboo works fine for me. I just have limited access to it, so I make do with another kind of cane which grows almost everywhere here in my area (and the picture I posted displays the same kind of cane I use).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundo_donax

I guess it can be found in the US too , or at least Wikipedia says so where it’s maybe known under the name Colorado river reed. Here it is almost infestating. Unfortunately it lasts less than bamboo. It’s good for one season and some of those canes last longer. I just have to check and test them every spring when the tomato season officially starts to see if they’re still usable.
If you can get bamboo easily, I suggest you go for it. You won’t regret it and it will work very well.

Dami
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Old April 26, 2017   #8
cjp1953
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Fritz77,do you tie your plants to the bamboo poles?Looks like the support is from the top and bottom to keep things upright.Hard to tell from the picture the plants are so full.Any diagrams on how to set this up?
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