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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old November 25, 2016   #1
elight
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Default Stringing up container tomatoes

In my never-ending battle with disease since moving to Florida, I think that for my next crop (plant out in February), I will experiment with pruning to a single stem. All of my successful plants are in EarthTainers on my screened-in pool deck (raised beds outside have become too susceptible to pests).

So, two questions:

1. Any thoughts on a good way to create such a device? I'm thinking about taking metal conduit (or PVC) and notching it so that it slips right onto the top of the cage. The strings can then be tied off to the pipe and hung down, and the stems secured with string clips.

2. What do people do when the plants get above the top of the trellis? My cherry tomato plants are 2-3 feet above the 6' cages at this point.

3. How many single-stem plants do you think it's realistic to grow in an EarthTainer? Based on the square gardening recommendation for 1 sq. ft. per single-stem tomato plant, my intuition is telling me 4-6.
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Old November 28, 2016   #2
Sydney Grower
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Hi Elight,

I'm struggling to envision your setup but I love single stemming with drop strings. It allows me to plant very closely. In a 3x8 bed I run two rows of eight plants in each row. Photo below shows my system.

Sorry I don't know much about Earthboxes or the cages you are speaking about. I'll try to chime back in if you have a photo or can explain more.

Carl
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Old November 28, 2016   #3
schill93
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With Earthboxes placed on a patio, she would not be able to drive the EMT over any rebar pounded into the ground, so your setup would not work for her. There is a setup I saw on here that I haven't been able to find again that would work with the Earthboxes placed on a patio. It was made with wood that I think were 2 x 2's, made into a V
over the front and back of box, then had similar setup as yours with ties hanging down from support.

I will look a little more and see if I can find it. I should have bookmarked it.
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Old November 28, 2016   #4
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Yes Schill93, I wasn't really suggesting my setup as a workable solution with EBs but was using my setup to demonstrate how closely one can plant single stem tomatoes.

Elight, on the issue of what to do when the plants reach the top bar, I start out with a double length of string which I can adjust as the plants top out by dropping the string to coil the plant a little, allowing them to grow to the top again... and again.... and again.

Carl
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Old November 28, 2016   #5
elight
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Carl, here's a photo of two of my containers. The cages wrap around the outside of each container.

I also have raised beds and I have some 5-6' trellises made out of electrical conduit that I've used in the past that could easily be re-purposed. When letting out the string to let them coil, how do you keep them off the ground?



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Old November 29, 2016   #6
Sydney Grower
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Wow they are some healthy looking plants.

I don't try to keep the stems off the ground. I am happy for the coils to sit on the ground. By that stage I have stripped all the foliage off the stem that low so it is just bare stem onto mulch.

Repurposing the electrical conduit sounds like a good idea if you can work out how to attach it to the EBs. Or could you run your strings off the wooden supports in the photo on your deck?
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Old November 29, 2016   #7
elight
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We've had a very dry and temperate fall that had kept the plants healthy.

Those beams are actually the metal frame of the pool enclosure (screen). I don't think that I can attach anything to them unless I droll holes in them, but it's definitely a thought.

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Old November 29, 2016   #8
Barb_FL
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I have tomatoes growing in EB and a few RP on my pool deck. My plants are HUGE and what I've done this year is attached bamboo poles to the cages with zip ties. The light weight bamboo poles really work out better than the heavier/better ones. I only need 2 zip ties per pole.

I've done it with 4' and also 6' bamboo poles and don't start at the bottom of the cage so even the 4' pole can become 7-8 feet.

Let me know if you need a picture.

My bigger problem is wind knocking over the cages on the pool deck. I'm sure I have a lot more wind than you in Orlando. It is especially bad coming out of the east; regular wind is 15-16 MPH. After trying for years with using cinder blocks, etc, I finally solved the problem with filling up tall buckets (like the orange HD / blue Lowes ones) with water. None have fallen over since.
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Old November 29, 2016   #9
elight
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A photo would be great. I'm thinking I could tie off stems to the cage itself, and then use additional poles up top as an extension.

We get very little wind here. Ditching the cages and I utting vertical poles in cement-filled buckets or something similar is another possibility... And then attaching a horizontal member across the top to drop strings from.

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Old November 29, 2016   #10
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Something else I was thinking you could do. You could insert some O screws (don't know proper name) into your metal screen supports above and hang either wood 2 x 2's or 3/4" EMT pipe across, then hang your ties down from that. You could even spray paint the EMT to match your enclosed screen supports. Likewise, you can stain the wood to match. I don't know if you can picture what I'm saying.
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Old November 30, 2016   #11
Barb_FL
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Here are some pictures; those buckets of water is what is keeping the plants upright in this constant wind.
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Old November 30, 2016   #12
Cole_Robbie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schill93 View Post
Something else I was thinking you could do. You could insert some O screws (don't know proper name) into your metal screen supports above and hang either wood 2 x 2's or 3/4" EMT pipe across, then hang your ties down from that. You could even spray paint the EMT to match your enclosed screen supports. Likewise, you can stain the wood to match. I don't know if you can picture what I'm saying.

I think you're on the right track. She needs support from the top. The problem with using weights is that they only hold one end. The wind pushes the top of the plant and makes it one big lever. Somehow, some way, those plants need to attach to the screen wall behind them, from the top or at least the middle. That will keep the wind from prying the whole plant like a lever. It doesn't even have to be that strong, if it is attached at the right place.
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