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THE EXTENSION CORNER: Simplify trellising with the Florida weave

Growing tomatoes in the summer is a must for any gardener I know.

Dustin Adcock

Tomatoes benefit from the support of a trellis, keeping the fruit and plant off the ground. If you are planting more than just a few, maybe enough to feed the whole neighborhood, you should consider simplifying your trellis to the Florida weave system.
The Florida weave system reduces the number of post, labor and cost of wire baskets, single leader systems and other trellises.
For this system, wooden or metal 5- to 6-foot posts and sturdy string are all that is needed.
You begin with a stake driven between every second or third plant. At the start of the row, you tie the string to the post and weave it on the outside of the plants and then loop it around the next post.
The first string usually starts at about 10-12 inches high and additional strands are added every 4-6 inches as the plant grows. Most importantly, make sure the string is for outdoor use and keep the string tight.
As with all gardening methods, it’s best to develop your own ways to make this system work best for you.
I’ve found hay bale twine to work wonderfully. It can be purchased at most farm supply stores in large rolls of 20,000 feet or more. Take this roll and slip it in a backpack, running the end of the twine out and through a short piece of pipe (about 3 feet long).
Once you are set-up like this, you can tie the end to the first post and use the wand (pipe) to weave the string.
You may not have to bend over again until you are done with the row.
Give the Florida weave a shot and see if it doesn’t make those tomato sandwiches even more rewarding.

Dustin Adcock is the extension agent for Agriculture- Field Crops & Horticulture at the Stanly County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call him at 704-983-3987.