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What good is it to buy - very expensive most often - metal stakes to accommodate our tomatoes when simple branches, available free in nature, can fulfill the same function? Not to mention that the result is quite charming and that it will bring a pretty medieval connotation to your vegetable patch.
The principle ? Use hazel or chestnut branches which will serve as stakes and will be joined together by transverse plies. A tomato plant will be planted in front of each tomato stake. The branches of the tomato stems will then be attached, as they grow, on the lateral stakes.
Once the general principle is understood, you will be free to let your imagination speak, by adapting the design to the number of tomato plants you wish to plant, by adding transverse plessis so as to draw new shapes…
For the structures, you will preferably choose chestnut or hazel, two woods that produce long and straight branches. The chestnut offers superior durability which will allow you to keep your plessis the following year and to install other varieties of vegetables (gourmet peas, pickles, etc.), why not in association with climbing flowers like the beautiful suzanne with eyes black or the bewitching volubilis…
- Difficulty: easy
- Cost : almost nil when you can take the necessary wood from your garden or from nature
- Tools required : - Branch cutters - Pruning shears - Ax - Chestnut or hazel branches: 4 vertical stakes (wood about 2 to 3 cm in diameter), 3 transverse stakes (wood about 2 to 3 cm in diameter) , 4 horizontal branches (wood about 1 to 2 cm in diameter) - Raffia or wire (optional)
Step 1: Prune the branches
The hazel and the chestnut are two woods which can grow in the form of a cépée (family of feet instead of a single foot), as soon as they are pruned regularly. Locate the straightest and longest branches and cut them at the base using a branch cutter (a pruner may be too limited in cutting power).
Then use the pruning shears for delimbing, i.e. removing all the small peripheral branches.
Finally, cut the branches to the desired length. The first cut branch will serve as a standard for the following ones.
Step 2: Prune the lower end of the branches to a point
This action makes it possible to have tutors that will be easier to bring into the ground. Place yourself on a chopping block and use an ax to draw this point.
Step 3: Position the structures
Position the vertical branches - those which represent the base of the structure - on the ground, so as to verify that they can take their place in the location you intended for them. Here, the creation will be mounted on the basis of four vertical tutors.
The spacing between the stakes and their height is thought according to the type of culture they will accommodate. Here, for tomato feet, we count 60 cm of spacing between two feet / stakes and 1.80 m high to follow the growth of the plant to its maximum. Manage the spacing by means of a rod - a simple branch for example -, which you will transfer between each tutor so as to have regular spacing.
Step 4: Plant the support structures
This is often the most physical step, despite the pointed shape of the ends of the stakes. If the soil is really hard, loosen it beforehand using a grelinette or make a pre-hole in the crowbar. For the strength and durability of the set, it is important that the stakes are pushed in 20 cm.
Step 5: Position the transverse stakes
Cross stakes come to rest on the vertical stakes so as to secure the whole. Adjust their length directly by presenting them in their place, making sure to keep a sufficient length for the buried part.
Plant these stakes at the foot of the vertical stakes. Each will then be fixed at the sum of the neighboring vertical tutor. This is where you start to form the first designs, in our example of inverted "V" s.
Then start the horizontal plessis, about ten centimeters from the ground. Use smaller woods and press them following the structure, passing once in front, once behind. Do the same with the second branch, crossing it with the first.
If your structure seems fragile to you, in particular because of branches that are not entirely adapted to the construction (section, verticality, etc.), do not hesitate to consolidate the whole by means of a link (raffia or metallic wire as in our example).
Repeat the previous step (making a horizontal lattice), on the upper part of the structure so as to finish stabilizing it.
Step 6: Plant your tomatoes and water
Your structure is in place! It only remains to plant. Position a tomato stalk at the foot of each vertical stake. You will then train the branches of the plant on the transverse uprights, as it grows. The icing on the cake: think of combinations of plants and vegetables, both for the protection they provide and for the beauty of the mixture.
And There you go ! All that's left is to let nature do its work!