Tuesday, July 24, 2012

weaving and winding

This year I'm weaving my tomatoes (basket, not Florida, except for the plants that got away from me and are far too unruly to basket, they're Florida-ed). I'm doing this instead of giving each plant its own stake. I would have run out of stakes pretty fast. I planted, for some reason as yet unknown to me, 47 tomato plants in my four raised beds. Yes, other things, too, but 47 tomato plants. 47 taller-by-the-minute plants requiring support. I had no intention of going out to buy 47 anythings to trellis these babies. So, I am making do with the stakes I had from meager gardens past and, because on this farm it is everywhere you look until you need it, I'm doing the weaving bit with baling twine.

I think you're supposed to have two or at the maximum three plants between stakes. Hmm. In my quest to be thrifty I have six plants between stakes in some spots, four in others. And my spacing is too tight, I know this already. But these plants of mine are covered in flowers and clusters and ripening fruits as I write, so I'm wondering where all these rules came from in the first place. Anyhow, I have three stakes per row in my raised beds, one for each end and one in the middle (we're only talking about eight foot long beds, mind you). The end posts are anchored to the end boards with nails and, yes, more baling twine. So I tie a piece of twine to the end post, weave around the plants, wrap it a few times around the middle post pulling the tension quite tight in the process, carry on to the other end's post, wrap a few times and then weave back to the middle post from there, alternating the weave from the first weave so each plant is well and truly snugged in with twine. Back to the end, tie off the twine; admire the neatly trellised tomatoes.

The pros use purpose-made center-pull balls of twine for this task that comes in neat little hip-carried boxes. I said pooh-pooh with all that, I'll just string my twine along behind me as I go. All well enough until said twine tangles hopelessly in the many leaves and branches already sprouting off my tomato plants in all directions. But I will not be made to buy tomato-twine-in-a-box. Oh no, not I.

Chick-Chick says, "Just buy the darn twine, will ya? I'm sick of looking at this mess." Indeed, Chick-Chick. Indeed, I will not. I will gather up this twine, and I will tame it. By gosh and by golly, I will tame this twine. I will make my own tomato-twine-in-a-box. 

Out to the picnic table comes the swift.

And the winder.

And the assistant, too.

All go for Project Twine Ball!

Take that, Chick-Chick. 

Works like a charm.


  1. No doubt, baler twine is a farmers best friend!

    I like the idea of using less stakes and look forward to how it turns out. Last time we planted that many gardens we staked each one... and it took forever to keep them tied up. Seems like this is more efficient in more ways that one.

  2. This is very cool. We made trellis' for our tomatoes this year, but they are growing so well they are taller than the trellis. Next year I might give this a try.

  3. Ooo... very good idea. I think I'll try this weaving thing in my tomato garden next year. The swift for baler twine made me laugh out loud!

  4. Too clever! Your tomato plants will thank you, but chick-chick might take revenge by pecking your ripe fruit ;)

  5. Ha! Brilliant! I've got to figure out a different support system for my tomatoes next year...

  6. Thank you for my morning laugh, which arrived when I saw the photo of the swift! so smart....

  7. And it's such pretty blue recycled twine! What a great use of your swift, also. I may have to try this with my tomatoes next year.

  8. The rules on tomato spacing are bunk I've decided. I planted mine to be quite cozy this year and they are very happy! I've gotten more fruit than ever. Now, if only it would rain...

  9. I used our baling twine for the bean trellises this year. I like that you made them into one big ball though. Good thinking. And as for your tomato supports, we're also doing them the same way. Except I used really heavy duty (old and rusty) t-posts. I have four in a 40 foot row, and they are holding just fine. I can see how wooden ones would need to be closer together though. That's how I've done the children's garden at school and they're a lot less sturdy in the ground because of the weight. Maybe as the season progresses, if they start to lean, you could use some end supports to pull them apart? Oh, and have fun canning! ;)

  10. Oooh I want to do my tomatoes like this too this year... well when spring/summer comes down here. Sadly I'll be tangling that damn blue string behind me as I go though!

  11. Awesome ideas! Both for the staking of tomatoes (my tomatoes look like a jungle) and for balling up the twine! Who said things should be single-use. Well done.