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Tomato Baskets

basket_01.jpg (60670 bytes)There are numerous methods, limited only by personal preference and imagination, for keeping tomato plants off of the ground.  This is a simple, cost effective solution for creating a large number of baskets.  These are much sturdier than the wire hoop baskets available on the open market and work well for plants with determinate habits.

The materials that you will need are a roll of heavy gauge, woven wire field fence, a pair of sturdy pliers, a pair of good gloves, and bolt cutters.

The roll shown here is 330 feet in length and purchased at a building material supply store for $67.00 in the summer of 2001.


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1. Roll out the wire fencing and using bolt cutters, cut to length. 2. Here is a stack of pieces that are cut to length. 3. Use pliers to bend the ends. 4. Hook the ends together.
 
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5. Crimp one end. 6. Then Crimp the other end.  Repeat until all ends are connected. 7.  Finished baskets. 8. Baskets in place over a row of young plants.

These baskets can be made in any diameter by varying the length of fence section that you use.  Typically 24 to 30 inch diameter baskets meet most requirements.  The fencing material itself will determine the height.  These are 48 inches tall which is fine for determinate varieties and in our part of the county, they do fine for most indeterminate varieties.  As noted below, some additional support is recommended.


Update 6/27/11 - We have now been using these baskets, the very ones we made in 2001, for ten years.  We have certainly gotten our money's worth out of them and they are not showing any sign of failing.  We expect to get another decade out of them.

I would point out that they are only subjected to the elements for about one half of the year.  We are disciplined about putting them away in a shed during our fall garden clean up routine.Tomatoes plants in secured baskets.

An additional comment would be that we have learned that under very heavy loads, the baskets can collapse or blow over.  As in the photograph to the right, we anchor them by using t-posts at the ends of the row and then an additional post about every third basket.  We then use binder twine to connect them to the row of posts.

Along with baskets and posts, due to the shear number of tomatoes that we grow, we also heavily use the "Florida Weave" method of trellising plants.  It is not that it is superior in any particular way, but the baskets do take up a considerable amount of space and require a lot of handling.  With the Florida Weave method, we only have to store the posts over winter.


 

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