Probably not the best source for your answers, but i'll try.
1) Height - How high can you reach? Pole beans will grow up and about an additional foot before gravity brings them back to the pole or whatever support you are using.
2) Teepees are fine, cattle panels, whatever - even ropes or twine suspended from a cross member will allow them to climb. Only issue I have with teepees is harvesting from the inside. Some others leave one side open so they can enter there.
3) Bamboo, metal, cedar, non-poisonous tree limbs all will make suitable poles. We used young trees cut at the ground for 8' poles when we were in N. MN. Every year we had a "mini-forest" of poplar saplings come up. We did not want them in the clearing, so one of my chores was to cut them down.
4) Tomato supports are a perpetual topic in the Tomatoes Forum. Every conceivable method is used.
Hi Bill...on #2 answer, I am not familiar at all with the other choices besides teepees. Can you show me a picture or explain a little please?
How high should the tomato stakes be?
And I'm assuming I would plant the stakes before the plants as to not damage the roots???
Ginger...I don't think I've ever seen reinforcing mesh from building sites and I didn't understand your next sentence...one half height?
You can get cattle panels and concrete reinforcing wire at big-box stores - Home Depot and Lowe's, and most times at Tractor Supply Co. Your local feed and tack store for large animals will also have such items. The wire comes in rolls of different lengths. Most are 4-6 feet by 25-100 feet long. This allows you to make whatever size or shape you need.
Cattle panels are much stronger, but may be a bit more awkward to manuver. Some gardeners use them in pairs like an A-Frame and grow on both sides. Being bigger and heavier, less anchoring is required.
Stakes for tomatoes (if individual for each plant) should go in right before the plant. If you are buying cages or making your own from the construction wire, can be added later. But they need to be anchored, so that is why ginger suggested a stake 1/2 the height of the cage or panel.
Anchoring is recommended for teepees or lean-to's ass well. Once they are covered with producing plants, you don't want a sudden storm to tear it out or turn it over.
I made a 4x8 foot a-frame from cedar for my polebeans, but had to anchor all four ways to prevent tearing plants from the ground with our summer storms.
If you are planning a single pole per tomato - then you will probably prune all suckers to allow a single stem until the height you want is reached. Top the plant and let it produce, but it will continue to make new suckers. If you don't prune it, you will soon have too many stems to tie to the pole.
I will try to find some of the threads in the Tomatoes Forum with pictures of various growing suspension systems.
Ok...I follow you so far, Bill but unfortunately, I'm not allowed to view the link... :(
A few questions though...what do you mean by "top the plant"?
How far down should my tomato stake be in the ground? And then how tall out of the ground?
If I anchor all of this, won't I have strings stretched out all over the place?
And I can reach about 7 1/2 feet...without tip-toes.
There is so much to learn and I feel like I'm taking a crash course and it's becoming so overwhelming! I just want to be prepared and know exactly what to do when it's time to plant. I don't like to "wing" things... :(
My brain is really full right now so I'm going to bed and hopefully I can dream really hard so I can have some more room in the morning to absorb more info!
Thanks again for all your help,