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Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Little Tomatosaurus Rex Prep Work

The tree stakes I got last year for my heirloom tomatoes worked great. Except for one problem. Late in the season, the weight of the plants started causing them to slip down the poles they were tied to.

The result was tomatoes that had been seven feet tall being three feet tall, damaging the plants and making it hard to harvest fruit. I hauled them up as best I could, but it was a problem.

Most of the vinyl sleeves are loose enough you can slide them off the steel pole—and that steel pole might not be as slippery, but I bet the same thing would happen if I went with bare poles. With wood, I used to drive nails in to give hang-holds. For this, I figured drill holes in the sleeves where zip-ties can go through, then tie your cloth strips to a zip tie loop in the sleeve. I've never seen a tomato plant heavy enough to break a zip tie.

The only problem is a few of the stakes have such fat poles that there isn't room for the zip tie to go through. A few others are so snuggly jacketed I can't even get the sleeves off, but I think by doing the ones I can, I'll at least be able to get vertical support from a neighboring stake. Perhaps run a horizontal pole though zip ties on neighboring poles, too.

It was going really slow at first, I couldn't get the drill bit to bite into the vinyl. I switched bits to a saw drill bit thinking it felt sharper, but still. I ended up making pilot holds with a small bit and then really having to lean on it with the larger bit. This went on for about an hour, I think, when I realized the drill was set to reverse. No need for pilot holes, and I got a dozen sleeves knocked out an probably a half hour.


Anonymous said...

Cages man....cages!

Chixulub said...

Cages, maybe someday when I'm rich and famous, but I got 40 of these tree stakes for $120 all in, they're plenty tall and sturdy, I'm going to grow tomatoes on them for a few years. Those Texas cages, I'd spend almost that much per plant.