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How to Grow Bunches of Tomatoes that Ripen Quickly

It's getting close to that time of year again it may even already be time for some. We always wait until Memorial Day to be confident that we are past the chance of frost date.  I thought I would bring this post forward early this Spring so those of you wanting to try this method will have plenty of time to gather supplies and prepare.

We were taught this by a farmer at our local CSA when we lived up north and have used it ever since.  Now instead of having big green bushes with a few tomatoes that turn red before frost IF we are lucky.  We now have skinny tall vines that are always loaded with bunches and bunches of fruit that can see the sun and turn red in plenty of time before frost.  In fact we have been known to have ripe tomatoes from July clear until Fall.

The cool thing too is that they take up less space.  Yep that's right you get more tomatoes and each plant takes up less space.  Just look in the picture just above (taken in 2011) the first bed has pole beans the next bed has tomatoes.  The bed is about 12x4 and there are almost 30 tomato plants growing in that space.

Okay I'm going to try to explain it as best I can so you can try it if you want.  I think you will be as pleased as we have been.

What you will need -
  • Tomato plants, planted about 18 inches apart closer if you are really pressed for space.
  • Next you will need some sort of clip we love these Tomato Clips
  • Then you will want a bunch of twine some good strong stuff works best don't use string
  • Something to be used as a frame to tie the twine on, you can get creative with this, we use rebar
  • You will need something to tie the twine to and stake in the ground we use whatever we have available at the time, sticks, old tent stakes, pieces of wire hanger, gardening hose stakes or these Garden Stakes would work really well

I wish I had pictures of the whole process but mostly we have just been excited and taken pictures of all the fruit.  Just look at how you literally get bunches of tomatoes.

If you look closely at this picture you can kind of see how we train and clip the vine up the twine.  The pictures below show it even better.

What you do -
  • As the vines get tall enough clip the main center stalk to the stem
  • Also as they are growing pluck off all the suckers.  Sorry we don't have a picture of what a sucker looks like but I noticed that there are lots to choose from here so take a look if you don't know what I am talking about.
  • As the plant grows just continue to clip it up to the twine and pluck off suckers as they come.
  • Then as things start to cool off (usually early to mid-October maybe sooner) cut off the tops with new growth and pick off all little green ones and blossoms.  At this point you don't want the plant producing more fruit you want it to be ripening what's there.  This works really good to ripen them up before frost.

This is the very best way we have found to grow tomatoes especially if you live in zones 5 or colder where chances of late frost in the Spring and early frost in the Fall are common.  Also it seemed to be the only way to get plenty of yield when we only lived on less than a 10th of an acre and had very limited space.  Good luck with your gardens this year!

P.S. Here are a few more recent pictures of how we have been stringing up our tomatoes since we moved 5 years ago.


Stephanie said...

So, you used rebar vertically and horizontally across the top (where you attached the twine)? How did you connect the vertical rebar supports to the horizontal rebar supports?

Tammie said...

Stephanie: It seems like he used a U type bolt but I think he has changed the way he does it to make it easier. I will pin him down this week and have him explain it in a comment here.

Stephanie said...

Great! Thank you! I've found several sources online that recommend tying rebar with wire, but I believe that is when it is being placed as a support within concrete and I don't know if it would be strong enough to stay in place as a garden support.

Ronald Of Los Angeles Home Health Care said...

Yes I was wondering the same on how you did the vertical support and rebar connect

Tammie said...

We just used PVC Pipe it didn't hold up as well in the wind but was simple to fix it can be really windy here though so we switched to the conduit in the picture above. Below is a link to an example on Instagram.