I have had wonderful results staking my tomato plants with the Florida Weave method. I started my seeds in January inside and still have not had a tomato turn red for me! I have over 3 dozen tomato plants with varities "Whopper", "Bloody Butcher", and "Black Krim". I will use the Florida Weave again and again because it has worked so well for me on my first attempt.
I tried it last year on a row about 15 ft. long. While it worked fairly well, many branches came out at right angles and refused to bend back to be supported by the weave. So what do you do then, cut them off and lose the sun-collecting leaves, or leave them as is and block the access path?
I did not do this but I have read that indeterminate tomato plants should have their side shoots removed. I can still walk down the middle but it is crowded. I also tied a knot on the string's on either side of the large plant's with heavy fruit and it has worked well in holding them up. I believe the method is some what primitive, but it has proven effective for me. I also placed a stake every 3rd to 4th plant and this helped keep the jute string remain taught. Maybe I just lucked out this year!
I had never heard of staking tomatoes this way or seen anything close to weaving them with jute string. I found a video on the internet that gave a demonstration. I was recovering from hand surgery and wanted to do something with my hand to help rehabilitate. I planted seeds and a lot of tomato seeds. I had over 3 dozen tomato plants and had to find a cheap way to stake all of them. 12 of my plants are "Whopper" variety and over 6 feet tall, loaded with tomatoes, and this weave is supporting them very well. Yes the strings are sagging due to the heavy weight of plants and fruit but it has continued to hold the plants very well. Looks like I have a lot of tomatoes to give away this year.
I used gallon sized pots BUT I have had to water faithfully once a day. When the plants were about a foot tall, I put the first weave of jute string. As the plants grow taller (about 10-12 inches) add another weave of jute string. Regular string may cut into the plants! As the plants grow add another row of jute string until you are at the very top of your stakes. Now that the temperature is reaching 90 degrees, I am watering twice a day. The plants are wilting badly around 3:00 p.m. if I don't water twice a day. Next time I will use larger pots and hope that once a day watering will be enough but with plants 6 feet tall and in this heat, they really use the water plus evaporation from the heat. They are in full sun until about 3:00 p.m. when they are shaded by my neighbors two story home. I used very diluted tomato fertilizer when the seedlings put on their second set of leaves. Once transplanted to the gallon pots, I used full strength tomato food and fish fertilizer together. This combination did not burn my plants but the thought did cross my mind. They are now starting to turn pink and as I suspected they are all going to turn red at once. The "black krim" and heirloom "bloody butcher" are several weeks behind these "whopper" tomatoes.
1lisac, I had given many plants away but still had over 3 dozen plants and could not afford to purchase tomato cages for all of them. I went on youtube and in people and blogs, I searched "staking tomatoes" and many different ways to cheaply stake tomatoes came up and the "Florida Weave" was one of them. Being born in FL and raised in central FL all of my 54 yrs. of being here have never seen tomatoes staked like this before BUT it works. Make sure you have a stake every 3rd or 4th plant and go around the middle stakes twice with your jute string to keep tight.. People are very inventive and there are many different ways to stake tomatoes on you tube and do it very cheaply. IF you have two rows side by side, make the rows 3-4 feet from each other so you will be able to walk between them once the plants grow and mature. I also put down landscape fabric under the pots to keep out any weeds and grass.
qterhrs, I am going to purchase that copy of Organic Gardening! I did see a photograph of a man in California that had acres of tomato plants all staked up using this weave method, so it can be done on a very large scale. I was surprised to see so many plants being held up by stakes and jute string.
from my knowledge, a single vine tomato plant can grow in a 1 gallon pot as long as it is on a watering system that gives it water 4 times a day.
I have grown tomato plants in 6 inch pots until they were 3 feet tall and then they had to be transplanted.
James17 wrote:qterhrs, I am going to purchase that copy of Organic Gardening! I did see a photograph of a man in California that had acres of tomato plants all staked up using this weave method, so it can be done on a very large scale. I was surprised to see so many plants being held up by stakes and jute string.
It says that it was used by commercial growers. I like that it looks easy, cheap for those of us who grow a lot of tomatoes, and quick clean up at the end of the season.
We've used this method of staking tomatoes for at least 20 years. My husband & I first saw this method at Penn State's garden plots. They had a lot of plants in long rows and this looked very efficient. Tried it the next year and never looked back.
We do plant our toms in the ground and add more jute as needed. I try to get side shoots into the weave but if they are too stubborn I just let them go. Sometimes the path gets crowded but I can get through.
I could never visualize how they got the string around plants and stakes without throwing the box of twine back and forth to either side of the row. Now I see it's obvious: you reach OVER the plants and stakes.
I switched to a variant of this method last year. I pre-strung all the jute at 1-foot intervals, then laced the plants through them as they grew. This worked very well and held up during high winds, heavy rains, and both. Needless to say, I'm doing it again this year.
Hi, I'm new to DG and so to this group as well. Tomato staking has been a longstanding problem for me. I haven't been able to get the Florida weave method to work effectively. I usually put in about 75 tomato plants and they are a source of constant frustration. Judging from the success stories here with this method, I'm thinking that maybe my spacing is all out of whack. Can some of you comment about the distance between stakes, between stake and plant and between plants? I tried to follow recommendations from websites I found, but clearly, I'm doing something wrong. Also, maybe I don't prune correctly. Pretty much all I do is try to get the suckers off. I would say I am moderately successful at that, but I always miss some. Does anyone do more than that? Thanks. Marg
I haven't done it myself, but the videos I've seen seem to get the string really taut.
And wrap it a few times around each stake.
Doesn't string stretch and shrink in the rain?
If I recall (and I'm not sure I do), maybe there were only 2-3 plants between each stake. Even so, it looked like the plants helped each other sdtand up, and maybe kept the string from drooping if it stretched. Maybe.
It also looked like they ran the string when the plants were just SLIGHTLY taller than the stirng height. Does that mean they run another string every month or so?
I hope someone with any knowledge at all chimes in!
I tried lopping off the shoots that jut out perpendicular to the string line last year, which cleared the path in between rows a little. This year I think I will increase the space between rows (and plant some other veggy in the middle).
The jute string doesn't seem to stretch much in the rain if you pull it tight originally. You can even buy it dyed green if you don't like the brown color. You can save the string and use it for other purposes the next year, but it is a little weaker and probably shouldn't be used for the Florida Weave again.
I have tried several spacings. One uses strong stakes every 3 tomato plants: || t t t || t t t ||
but when I ran out of strong stakes, I started using thinner metal poles between them that I got
at an outlet for a little over $1 each: || t t | t t | t t | t t || which provides more support and uses fewer expensive stakes.
I even planted some cucumbers at the base of the strong stakes and trained them up the stake. Seemed to work well and they didn't interfere with the tomatoes.
I solved the problem by purchasing hinged trellises with diagonal crossbars. They are about 72 inches high. As the tomatoes grow, we do the weaving in and out. We always grow indeterminates, so they tend to enjoy the trip in and out. These trellises are a bit pricey, but due to the hinging they fold to half the size and a bit of paint refreshes them in the spring. The fact that they are hinged keeps them well anchored in 3 places.
In between we let cucumbers vine up the same trellis.
Is the reason for using jute because it is soft and less likely to damage the tomato plants? I was thinking of trying the Florida Weave this year but using nylon string because it is stronger and wouldn't be as likely to stretch. I was also wondering if there was a way of tying the jute so you could tighten it if it did stretch. And could you combine the Florida Weave with the vertical string weave method so you have double the support or would that be overkill? I made nice galvanized wire cages last year but they don’t allow enough room to remove suckers and grooming of the plants. That’s why I'm looking for an alternative method of supporting my tomatoes. I grow my tomatoes in raised beds although this year I will grow 10 to 15 plants in 5 gallon plastic buckets ($3.98 each at HD).
Well, I first had three plants between stakes and then I found I was always adding shorter stakes to the middle plant which would fall over and tying the two end plants to the closest stake. Then I went down to two plants between stakes and they still did not support them well. I had: 1 stake -12"- 1 plant- 24"- 1 plant- 12"- 1 stake. I thought maybe this year I'd try some kind of rigid support for the bottom weave and then jute for the upper ones. I'm using PVC stakes with crossbars every 12 " for the weave. I find the jute does not stay tight despite wrapping it around the stake a few times. I should try knotting at each stake, maybe. Do you all have your plants closer together?
I look for macrame twine all during the year at Thrift shops, and use it for all my trellising. It is strong and soft. Sometime I save it to reuse, but for the low price it can just be disposed of if you don't want the hassle of unwinding old vines!
This will be my fourth year with Florida Weave. I mostly grow determinates because of very strong winds in my area. I just followed the u-tube video and had at it. I use T-posts as I had them on hand. Used macrome twine as I found two big spools of it at a yard sale just as I was planning out my first FW/tomato bed. So I figured that was fate. It is starting to look pretty ratty now so I guess I need to hit the yard sales again. I do grow a choice few indeterminates along the south side of my espalier cage. They get to free range up the side and they seem to get the serious support they need there. I prune off the branches growing into the path between the rows. I don't get too much in the way of sagging w/Florida weave, but have used step posts in the row to help if I need it.
James17, I had two hand surgeries in 2011. I think gardening is what kept me going! Hope everything turned out well for you and love those photos.
I've read about people using "remesh" as a tomato trellis since it's much heavier than galvanized welded wire fence, and the openings are 6" - 8" It is like very lightweight rebar welded into a rectangular mesh in panels around 4' x 6'.
I found panels of it at HD, but they are so large that I haven't figured out a way to get them home.
Even sturdier are cattle panels and sheep panels. I think pig panels / pig fencing may be lighter than remesh.
Those would be permanent solutions, but would still need posts, and I think panels would be much more expensive than twine plus posts.
I used up my cattle panels around the new trees--deer were after them. I still use cattle panels for other vines, etc. but have found the Florida Weave is easier to clean up and move to another bed once the season is over.
HRP, To easily take up the slack in string or rope, have someone show you how to tie a Truckers Hitch, which is a quick loop in the standing part of the string that you run the fall of the rope through and easily tightens the string. If you cannot find an old farmer or trucker to show you, Dmail me. It is really simple and easy to tie.
Cricketsgarden didn't go into her staking method, but, I used it for the first time last tomato season, and I'm never gonna look back.
It's a simple frame constructed over the line of tomato plants. Each plant gets its own leader line that is thrown over the top crossbar of the frame. One end of the line is tied loosely (slipknot) close to the base of the plant in the ground/pot/container. The excess line is thrown over the top crossbar. As the plant gets taller, the excess line is simply woven around the vine so that each plant stands vertically in its space. Suckers are pruned judiciously for space control, and the plant is trained to a single main or a "vee" double stem (a bit trickier to maintain).
I had some 7 ft. galvanized fence posts leftover from my old fence. I dug post holes 24" deep, and set two posts in on either side of one end of my 4x8 raised bed. Then, I used pvc couplers, additional pvc pipe, and elbow joints to extend the height back up to 7 ft. with a crossbar over the bed. I planted my row of tomato seedlings parallel to the top crossbar, attached the leader lines, and trained the plants to one or two main stems, winding the jute (yes, it is softer and doesn't cut into the stems...) around the main stem as the plant grew taller.
Before it was said and done, I had a line of 5 tomato plants all bearing fruit, and growing relatively vertically next to each other. I'm guessing that each line had approximately 50 lbs. of loaded plant weight on it. No lines ever broke.
Very neat and compact.
Cricket spaces her tomatoes as close as 8" apart in a line, and yields a market growers bounty on this system.
A friend brought me a Beefmaster tomato plant that she had been growing in a bucket. It was about 15' of tomato vine when it was delivered in the eBucket (self-watering with an inverted colander reservoir design).
Well, I parked it under a tree and tried to contain the limp stem as best I could. One day, as I was across the yard looking back at that pitiful vine sprawling everywhere, I caught my neat tomatoes growing on their frame in the Raised Bed. Then, I looked up and spied a branch growing horizontally over that eBucket, about 18' up the tree...
So, I did what any self-respecting tomato grower would do. I wove that stem around a leader line, tossed the ball of jute over that branch (took a coupla tries to throw the ball over...), and hoisted that entire stem vertically on the leader line. Enjoyed tomatoes the rest of the season...
Remesh trellises work quite well. Unfortunately mine are beginning to be shaded by some trees to the SE, so last year I just used them for cherry tomatoes and pole beans. You are right about them being awkward to transport. I bought mine when I had a (covered) pickup truck and barely was able to fit the flat 5ft variety in. If you have a lot of space you can get remesh in a 100-ft roll which might be able to fit into a car trunk.
I listen with envy to large-scale ideas like that, but even if I had the room, I would soon run out of energy.
Once a bought a house with a big yard and some woods, and had grandiose garden plans. Duhh. Every minute of spare time and more than 100% my spare energy wentin to wacking weeds, mulching existing beds, raking leaves and a few other chores. I built exactly two beds. One taught me that a deep hole in heavy clay fills with water and becomes a mud wallow. The other taught me that a bed on a slope needs some kind of terrace, but then drains great.
Eventually it was bought by someone with a landscape business. He probably thought "I can imporve THIS yard 500% in my sleep!