After finally getting some tomato and cucumber starts planted in greenhouses, it was time to begin the ongoing task of trellising.
The vast majority of our trellising is done with twine, and when possible, we reuse the same twine year after year. After cleaning out greenhouses at the end of the season, we stash away boxes of twine wound around special hangers.
In smaller greenhouses and greenhouses planted with cucumbers, twine hangers are placed on lateral wires strung down the length of the greenhouses.
Hanging twine in taller greenhouses requires a specialized tool (a piece of bamboo) to reach up to top wires.
Gathering Together Farm grows its entire cucumber crop inside greenhouses, and the elaborate trellising system makes the harvest infinitely faster and easier than rummaging through prickly foliage looking for camouflaged fruits on the ground. The fruits also turn out to be much more attractive and marketable. Later on during the summer, the crew will pass through this greenhouse almost every day, twisting off a fat cucumber from each vine as it hangs suspended from the twine trellising.
Then a crew member gently winds the twine around the stem a few times.
A little slack is left in the line, so it’s flexible enough to move but won’t let the plants fall as they get heavier.
Every two to three weeks, the crew will return to this house and secure the growing vines to their individual lines by continuing to wind the stems up the twine.
Larger greenhouses planted with tomatoes, get an independent trellising infrastructure because the tremendous weight of the growing plants and fruits could potentially collapse the entire greenhouse if it was suspended by the greenhouse frame alone.
T posts are driven into the ground at six foot intervals (two plants between each post).
Top bars on the T posts are strung with wires down the length of the greenhouse.
The ends of the lines are braced with serious wooden posts and anchors. The crew adds additional horizontal supports to keep the lines from flopping over to one side or the other when they’re fully loaded.
Later, a crew member ties a loose knot with the twine around the base of each tomato plant…
…and gently winds the twine around the stem up to the top.
Each tomato plant will eventually have two leaders, so an extra twine is hung next to each plant to support the additional branch in the future.
Trellising cucumbers and tomatoes is incredibly time consuming, and the infrastructure (especially the T post system) is quite expensive. Doing it well, however, leads to healthier plants, higher yields, better quality fruit, and an easier harvest.