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Presenting: TomatoHenge! | Speedkin

Presenting: TomatoHenge!


The I-beam still needs to be trimmed to the same height and all of the metal parts still need painted but it is functionally done!

At the end of each row is a piece of I-beam, ripped in half lengthwise, with “mini” I-beam made from pieces of flat iron acting as braces.

On the backside (the flat portion) of each I-beam, 12″ pieces of rebar are welded at 12″ intervals.  We only had enough to make five on each so that puts the top support height at 6″ for this year.  There’s enough height left on the I-beam so that we can put another level  on each should we choose to do so later.

2.4 mm braided nylon cord looped and hooked onto each side of the rebar on each level.  It’s slightly stretchy but not too much so, so it acts as a soft suspension support for the plants as they grow up and through.  (One end of the cord is looped on the hooks and the other end is left unlooped, to be tied & untied each season.)

Both the beam and brace on each end is cemented 3′ into the ground.  Even the brace anchor is vertical, then the brace itself is welded on at a 45* (-ish) angle

A piece of bent steel is welded onto each end of the rebar to offer a smooth, non-abrading place for the nylon cord to attach.  At the end of the season, this cord will be removed and stored for winter, then re-used the following spring.

As the plants grow, I will tie an occasional branch to the nylon cord with strips of old T-shirts.  It’s quick & easy to do and helps to keep each plant within its given space, as well as distributing the weight between the different levels.

This year, as you all know, we’ve been horribly late with everything.  The tomatoes have had a rough life, forced to live in cups for weeks and weeks after they should have been in the ground.  Then they were left to sprawl in what was very soggy weather.  To top it off, we had horrific winds that broke several branches & beat the snot out of the leaves — then the attack of the hornworms.  Oy.

These poor things are much smaller than they should be.  Over the past couple of days, I went through and cut off most of the remaining damaged parts and that makes the poor things look even more spindly — but it also clears the way for more airflow so they can hopefully focus on doing some growing & fruiting instead of having to fight off all of the bad things.

Since they had to live as sprawlers for so long, they’ve grown twisted & crooked, all sorts of ways.  I started by tying up to the first level of cords, then waited a day for them to straighten back up towards the sun a bit.  Then I tied to the second level and am giving them a day to straighten up…   And so on.  I’ll be out tying to the third level this afternoon and, from there on out, they’ll grow straighter.  Next year, we’ll be able to get them in the ground on time (thanks to this all being in place already) and they’ll get to grow straight from the start.

15 Responses to “Presenting: TomatoHenge!”

  1. Paula July 17, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    I spent part of yesterday trimming my poor tomatoes of all the detritious after being sick. I got 4 plants done. It’ll be interesting to see how they grow again.

    • Diane July 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      What was wrong with them?

  2. Tracydr July 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Looking good Diane! I’m jealous of all your space! Love your garden!

  3. JD July 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Looks great. Makes my operation look very much like red neck gardening. I will try to get some pictures soon if I find my camera. The plants I have in the ground are looking good. Jay

    • Diane July 18, 2011 at 12:49 am #

      Thanks, Jay. After the year you’ve had…. I sure hope you end up with a long season to try and make up for it!

    • Mary July 18, 2011 at 12:54 am #

      I bow to you oh Goddess of the Tomato world ! Tomatohenge is a sight to behold. I hope you have a bunch of Romas in there cuz they are easy peasy to freeze then just pop into the sauce as needed.My San Marzanos are nearing 6 feet tall and producing like crazy. I actually will have to can some, oh and the Chelsea large cherry tomatoes are luscious.About 8 to each cluster and the size of a small plum. Love this time of the year.Please don’t say the word WINTER ! Purdy please ?

      • Diane July 18, 2011 at 10:04 am #

        No Romas specifically but I do have some San Marzano Redortas in there, along with a few other pastes. I generally don’t care for pastes so I consider it an ongoing challenge to find one I like.

        Winter! Winter! :-P I’m really looking forward to the rest winter will bring. I love summer best of all but, after not getting real winters for so long (living down south), I’m pretty appreciative of the forced rest!

  4. Carol July 18, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    Diane, That is just super. The neighbors may be watching, bu next year they may be trying to hire Steve at their house. Some people might spend that much effort on rasberries, but I doub many would for tomatoes. I love it. Carol

    • Diane July 18, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      Uh-oh. Now you’ve done it. You’ve got me thinking about what we can build for our raspberries & blackberries we started this year…. I’ll tell Steve it’s all your fault!

  5. Oldnovice July 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    I agree with everyone else. You’ll soon be making the cover of Home and Garden.

    • Diane July 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

      I hope not. I’d have to clean the house or something.

  6. Summersweet Farm July 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Daaaaang! Now that right there is some haaaard work! Where’d you get the Ibeam? And will you come do the same for me? :D

    • Diane July 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      Hubby’s a welder and the beam is leftover scrap from when he had his own biz. I’ll rent him out to you for a small fee. ;-)


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