I had had visions of my pole beans and Stupice tomatoes growing gracefully up their opposite sides of the trellis, then meeting beautifully at the top. The tomatoes had other ideas. They might as well be on steroids this year, they are so huge and thick. Something about the weather has been right. They are covered in lots of nearly full size green fruit, too.
It is all wonderful, but it makes them less than pliable, and I really wanted to use my dad’s romex wire trellising idea. I figured that my husband had some wire around. I was right, but to my surprise, he was going to “hoard” it. Something about it still being in good sized lengths that he could use later…
While I contemplated other options, my dear husband went into his shop area and scrounged for a few short pieces for me. I was very grateful, but it didn’t look at all like what my dad had showed me. Apparently, I was supposed to know that you have to get the inside wires out of a thick rubber casing. Okay.
I was supplied with an box cutter and some wire cutter/pliers. I cut one 6 inch long section of the yellow romex, then sliced just about an inch down the outer casing. This was not enough to pull out the wires, even with the pliers for leverage. So, I laid it down on the edge of the wooden raised bed and made a cut lengthwise in the casing about 3 – 4 inches long.
This was a long enough opening to allow me to pull out the wires with just my fingers. I discovered that there are 3 wires inside. One white rubber coated one, one black rubber coated one, and one plain copper wrapped in brown paper. Strange. My husband requested I return the plain copper wires to him. (click on any photo to enlarge)
I cut both the yellow cased and the white cased romex into varying lengths, between 6 and 10 inches. Then, I removed the inside wires from each section. When I got to the gray wire, I found that the rubber was more than a casing. It filled in tightly around the inner wires. It became clear to me right away that that was not going to be worth doing. I abandoned the gray wire and proceeded to try to attach the tomato plants to the trellis.
The tricky part was finding a notch in the the tomato branches that was both strong enough and at the right angle for the wire to hook it well. After I few tried, I got less picky about how it would all look, and just made it a goal to lift the tomatoes in the direction of the trellis and give the onions some breathing room.
I didn’t bend the wires until I could see how far they needed to reach and how I needed to attach them. Nothing so picture perfect as what my dad had done, but functional. I looked back at photos of his plants and decided that mine were probably in need of pruning, but that was not going to happen right away. I did find that it worked best to try to hook the trellis at a cross point.
Even with all the odd twisting of the wires to make them into workable shapes, they were gentle on my plants. When I accidentally scraped a stem during the process, it didn’t leave any deep gashes or break it. I did make an effort to not form the hooks around the stems too tightly.
My tomato plants are still growing and I am out of donated romex, so I’ll have to see what my options are for getting some scraps. Maybe stalk an electrician on the job?