A Cat’s Cradle for Tomatoes

An easy technique to train your tomatoes.

By Frank Hyman


Mastering the Florida Weave
• The Florida weave works best with determinate tomatoes, which grow about 4 feet tall. This includes many varieties of paste tomatoes as well as a few slicing tomatoes. (Look for the word determinate in the catalog description or on the plant tag.) Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, continue growing until frost kills them, so you may be tying tomatoes with a stepladder.

• Jute twine is strong and biodegradable. At the end of the growing season, it can go into the compost pile with plant debris.

• Tomato stakes are commonly made of wood. A longer-lasting option is 3/8-inch rebar—the metal rods used in construction. Rebar's small diameter makes it easy to drive into the ground with a hammer, and the tops don't splinter. Drive rebar stakes 12 to 18 inches into the ground to support the weight of the tomatoes. Purchase rebar at a building-supply store that will cut it for a small charge; a 20-foot length of rebar can be cut into three 80-inch tomato stakes—a good length for staking determinate tomatoes.

Illustration by Signe Sundberg-Hall