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ID jit
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Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Read through the support thread and didn't really see it, but saw things similar.

After pricing out U & T posts, concrete mesh and rebar, I started looking for a less expensive option.

Is it possible / worth while to just string a cargo net with 4" or 6" openings between to posts and weave the plants through it as they grow?

Simple net tying is simple and quick if you can tie an overhand knot and larks head, and you are not looking for pretty and absolutely perfect.
1000' rolls of para cord are not that expensive compared to the materials for other more common types of supports.

Does this seem feasible, or has it been tried and shown to be a failure?

Thanks much
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applestar
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

No it works. Did you see my recent post about using store-bought veg netting for VGB?.

What you DO need is solid cross beams. One solid one at top that will take the full weight, sometimes one or two more in between -- these can be taught wire -- that helps the netting from sagging. Some people make the structural framework with EMT -- is that right? I can never remember ... metal conduit pipes -- with elbows for the top corners.

You can twirl the vines around the lines, vertically or horizontally, and gently position a line under fruit truss that may be too heavy. You can also tie or clip the vines to the netting using whatever you happen to favor.

I'm intrigued that you are planning to tie the netting yourself. Is it like macrame? I never thought of making a net on my own.
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applestar
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Just as an addendum -- it doesn't have to be a pre-tied grid-pattern you know. I guess it depends on your preference. I tend to secure supports as they grow -- I grow so many different varieties and numbers of plants. Just as you seem to have, my conclusion has been that I don't have the budget for one or more stake per plant let alone a cage, and I've basically adapted from Florida/Texas Weave -- stakes every few plants and string. My "stake" of choice is 3/4-7/8 inch diameter bamboo poles which I buy in a big bundle every few years. I can double the bamboo when needed. I also like T-posts for sturdy end and in-between use, and I like that they can be moved around and used for different purposes as needed.


Different varieties of tomatoes' growth rate and pattern aren't consistent. That's part of my trial and error process. I've settled on Spiral tomato stakes for cherry varieties, and 4 ft tomato "cages" for true dwarf ("tree") varieties. Indeterminate are widely variable. But if you are going to custom tie the netting, I think maybe 4 inch intervals lower down, 6 inch intervals higher up horizontals, and maybe 8-12 inch intervals vertical might be about right for most varieties.

Making the structure only as tall as you can reach makes sense if you don't want to be carrying a ladder around and stepping up and down. Some varieties grow much longer vines than others, and they need the room to go sideways after they reach the top. If you grow shorter varieties next to it, they won't need the upper horizontals.

...I never have enough room in between plants or rows to let them drape down and back up again. Barely enough room for ME to brush by. My gardening clothes turn brown and soapy-wash water turns bright yellow-green from all the tomato foliage when I launder them. Same as my hands and arms.
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Your netting itself does not have to be heavy. The vegetable trellis netting sold in stores made of nylon are strong and light. They are only good for one season maybe two if you take the time to clean them off. The important thing is to get strong supports. I like to use fence posts. They are permanent in the garden but if you use them all the time they don't take up that much space. I rather use CRW between the posts but I have used trellis netting and it does work. I would have to put a fence cap on the top of the fence post and run a cross bar between them to tie the netting to, otherwise it is hard to keep it from sagging. CRW is easier to attach and it does not sag even under the weight of a gourd vine.
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ID jit
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Thanks. As long as it works....

Simple net making is easy. "Pretty" nets are a different story. A 6' X 8' utility net takes longer to set up than it does to tie.
Square knots take longer but lay better than overhand knots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WDTK5erYuE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRJLAac86hg

Have a forest here, ax, and bow saw, so lashing up a frame will be easy.
Start a second and maybe a third run of plants as back up.
Weave them through the net, prune as needed down to a few fruit sets.
Swap out the plants after picking and repeat.

Safe, simple and easy with no trip/fall hazards, real or imagined for my mom, and she will be able to pick tomatoes all summer long.
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Gary350
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Cargo net might work but it might be a nightmare to remove dead plants every year. Give it a try then you decide if you want to do it again.

In the past 40+ years I have tried many ways to grow tomatoes, they all work, only different is, how much money do you want to spend and how much work do you want to do?

I tried cement wire once you have to put it up and take it down every year so you can till the soil. It is expensive and comes in a large roll. Guide plants in/out through the holes as they grow. Put it up with 4x4 fence posts or a big storm will blow it over after it gets covered with tomatoes.

I tried growing tomatoes up a twisted rope that works good too but you still have to build this, take it down to till then put it up again every year. Rebar keeps tomatoes cage from falling over when plants are big and heavy. I tie plant to rebar all the way to the top with hay bail twine.

Now days I use a tomato cage plus 8' long piece of cement rebar for each plant, quick and easy to put up and take down every year. I push wire cage into the soil then jab the rebar into the soil hard as I can it takes 15 minutes to do 30 plants.

See photo. Rusty tomato cage and rebar to the right side of the shovel. Some of my rebar is 7' and some 8'. 8 is the best.

Image

Image

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applestar
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

That's a good point about the season-end clean up. I forgot to factor that in even though I use untreated jute and cotton twine for the most part. Best kind are ones that last season long without breaking under the weight of the vines, but deteriorate just enough after a few freezes that I could yank them off without having to reach for something to cut with. They get tossed on the path to be trampled and to break down.

I guess you wouldn't want to do that if you till or use machines. I used to put them in the compost pile, but they were frustrating when they wrapped around the pitchfork twines -- usually soaked in the nastiest juices and decomposing pieces.

Strong nylon netting and twine that last season after season are nice, too. But it's true you can not yank the vines off of those and need to be unraveled. Individual strings can be pulled out from the mess but not the netting -- netting will break. With remesh, you can yank freeze-softened/killed vines, or after full winter exposure, they basically are gone or crumble off. (I don't use circle cages but use flat panels secured to T-bar or double-bamboo stakes.... tried wooden steak one year, they broke at soil level and snapped in heavy storm -- bamboo is better because they flex in the wind and last as long as you pull them out of the ground after the season)
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ID jit
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

A lot of valid points...

Not doing this for myself, and what I need is only going to be needed for 3-5 years probably.

I like the idea of concrete mesh and rebar cages... have a welder. (HATE rust though. to many years of resurrecting cars which should have been made into appliances.) If I was looking at +10 years, I would go that route, but hit them with reverse electrolysis, acid etch and epoxy paint.

Pretty sure I will go the cost effect route next year, $60 for a 1000' roll of p-cord and lash together a frame of poles - inverted "V"'s and a ridge pole. I can tie the 4" diamond 6' x 6' nets in the winter darkness. In the spring hang them so they are a foot or so off the ground, and weave the plants though as they grow up to it. Don't think it will be too bad clipping 8 plants out of them if I am going to clip them down to compost size anyway.

Worst case is I end up with a whole lot of left over p-cord and some 4" diamond 6' x 6' nets and the poles get broke up and feed to my low maintenance pets.

This has gotten me thinking about doing the same for cukes.
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ID jit
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

This looks to be a pretty effective solution.
ImageThis looks to be a pretty effective solution.
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thanrose
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Idjit, that sure is esthetically pleasing, and depending on the aisle between the two tomato planters, it's probably pretty easy to manage the crop.

I gather this is not yours? Whoever did it does beautiful work. It does not look as if it gets dismantled each winter.

Down here, I'd really be concerned about eventual rot. If that white sand is anything to go by, this is southeastern US shores either Atlantic or Gulf. Probably humid.

Really nice. Unlike anything I'd ever do.

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ID jit
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Considering those are straw bales and I found that image on a straw bale web site, I am guessing it comes down.

Manage my tomato forest....funny... Have cut it back and still contemplate bringing a compass and machete with me when I go in there.:lol:
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

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KitchenGardener
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

ID jit wrote:Considering those are straw bales and I found that image on a straw bale web site, I am guessing it comes down.

Manage my tomato forest....funny... Have cut it back and still contemplate bringing a compass and machete with me when I go in there.:lol:
Love this!

We have such microclimates here that someone a few miles away could potentially have tomato forests like yours, while I'm just now noticing mine taking off...admittedly, I started from seed and started late, but even so, the weather in my neck of the woods has not cooperated much this year, hitting 70 if we're lucky and only infrequently - excepting, of course, the hot spells we have, where uncharacteristically, for 2-3 days its in the 90's. Ugh. -wall-

jeff84
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

used to use an old volleyball net to support everything from beans, and peas to cucumbers, and even a grape vine briefly. don't see why it wouldn't work for toms

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ID jit
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

Microclimate stuff is weird. One place in lived in the pioneer valley got 1"-2" more snow than where I worked which was 3 miles away.

I had a good year weather wise, a good location with lots of sun, soil that was worked on before I inherited the job and 5 lawn irrigation sprinklers covering 15' x 32' set to 15 minutes every other day.... It is pretty much idjit proof, and I screwed up in reverse. Went out and measured the other day, starting to plan for next year. Garden is smaller than I thought. Gardening is kind of like yatzee... one bad throw and and you can never seem to recover.
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jeff84
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Re: Cargo Netting as Tomato Support???

you can always start a new game though.

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