I will be testing growing the best tomatoes vertically on strings to evaluate and provide you with the best advice to help you with this method.
My article on the Best Way to Grow Tomatoes will have details about the tomatoes I am testing with other details for you to see.
What you need to Grow the Best Tomatoes Vertically on Strings
To test the string method I have used products I have for a temporary structure, if this is successful I will be building a permanent structure and will provide specific details of the items you will need to build your own permanent structure.
The cost for these items is fairly minimal so it will not impact your garden budget too much. I will provide costs after testing is complete for each of these items and links to purchase them.
- 2-3 posts for supporting wires for strings
- Cement for each post
- Wire or cable for holding up tomatoes
- Eye hooks and cable tensioner
- Tomato string hooks and plant clips
- See the Links below for products to build your Tomato String Support
Planting your tomatoes
This method allows you to plant your tomatoes much closer together. You can plant tomatoes 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart.
Dig the holes deep enough to allow you to bury the tomato up to the top leaves, trimming off the lower leaves so that your plant will produce a strong root system.
The picture below shows the hair-like follicles that will all turn into roots by trimming the lower stems off and planting tomatoes up to the new lowest stems.
Preparing your plant for connecting string support
In preparation to connect your string to your plant, you can hang the hooks and string above each plant.
Once the plants have grown to about 1-2 feet tall you can remove the sucker stems that are between the main stem and the stem growing horizontally from the tomato. Be careful not to break the main stem.
There are two methods for this method for tomatoes, one is to have one main stem for each tomato, the other is to keep 2-3 main stems by keeping the main stem, and 1-2 suckers that will become a main stem for each plant. I will test both of these methods and will provide results.
You will need to inspect your plant weekly to remove these suckers and add additional clips to support the plant up the string.
When connecting the clips to the string, it is fairly simple by placing the string in the area on the clip that will clamp around the string to hold it in place and the ring around one of the horizontal stems. Continue this process as the tomato grows up the string.
Connecting Tomato Clips
To get your tomatoes to grow up the string producing lots of blossoms and tomatoes you need to prune the growth in the crotch between the main stem and the horizontal stem. This will promote growth on the main stem and produce more fruit.
See the stem to trim in the photo below just above my thumb. This can be pinched off or cut off to remove the stem. You can also root this stem to start another plant.
Test updates for String Tomatoes
Tomatoes are growing well and now setting on tomatoes, tomato clips are holding the plant and string well.
Prune the tomatoes by removing any of the suckers, these are the shoots that are between the main stem and the horizontal stem. By removing these you will get more tomato blossoms and fruit on the plant.
You should remove these every week to send all the energy to the plant’s main stem that will produce fruit.
Remove all the lower branches to reduce the opportunity for disease and any yellowing leaves.
As the plants set tomatoes on and the plants continue to grow up the string you need to continue to remove the stems in the crotch off the main stem.
You need to continue to feed your plants every 10-14 days since tomatoes are heavy feeders.
Results- We have been harvesting some tomatoes but not as many as the other plants we did not grow on a string. I am not convinced either way about growing tomatoes this way but will continue to monitor. Even though we were able to plant the tomatoes closer together I do not believe we harvested more growing them this way.
I did find that the rats would climb the string and plants to each the tomatoes, so I had to wrap each one in Tule to deter them. I also used Tom Cat traps around the tomatoes and trapped many this way.
Based on everything we saw this the first year growing tomatoes vertically on strings, I was not completely sold that you could grow as many but also not opposed to this concept either. I will test for a second year to evaluate this growing technique and will provide results to you.
Growing Tomatoes vertically allows you to plant more plants per square foot, we did not get more tomatoes the first year using this method but I will test further to evaluate this method.
Next year I will try some other vegetables since I do believe that you can grow more plants vertically this way. I will test growing cucumbers vertically on strings and other structures, keep checking in to see the results.
If you have any results from your growing tomatoes using the String method please send me an email.