» Questions and Answers on How To Grow Tomatoes Using T-Frames

Questions and Answers on How To Grow Tomatoes Using T-Frames

The comments and questions are from a new Mittleider gardener in the MittleiderMethodGardening group in, and my responses are in parentheses. It is instructive, and shows someone is really paying attention!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have signed on to this group and obtained an enormous amount of help and information. I have also read one of Dr. Mittleider’s early books. What I have found is that I read something in a post or article and then forget where I read it. I am planning to garden using the 18” beds (not grow boxes) for my garden. Here is what I have gathered in summary. Please check and see if I am correct.

1. Grow beds in the garden should be 18” wide and 30’ long. Aisles should be 3 1/2’ and ends 5’. (Any length is ok – just remember to feed Pre-Plant 1 ounce per running foot and Weekly Feed 1/2 ounce per running foot).

2. They should be 12” in the middle with 3” ridges on each side. (The actual planting area will be between 10” and 12”, and the ridges take up about 3” horizontally on each side, but they need to be 4” + high).

3. I can plant two rows of small crops in each 18” row if I plant at the base of the ridges.

4. I need to only plant 1 row of vining plants such as tomatoes, beans, melons, squash, etc. offset to one side.

5. Watering is done with the PVC method, three holes, one in the middle other two at 45-degree offsets. (Watering can be done with a hose also. Just tie a large towel over the end of the hose – with the end open. This cuts the pressure but allows the full flow of water.)

(If using the automated watering system you need the three holes described – each one drilled with a #57 drill bit (much smaller than a 1/16th” bit) in Schedule 200 PVC pipe – every 4” along the entire length of the bed or box.)

6. The T-frames are made of 8’ (4 X 4) posts set into the ground 15” with 32” tops. They should be set no more than 10’ apart.

7. QUESTION: How many strands of #8 wire do you recommend at the top? (Two strands of wire are used – one on each side, near the edge of the T.)

8. QUESTION: How do I get my vines to the wire strands on the T-frame? If I was using the grow boxes I see that I could attach a string or wire to the box and the other end to the wire. However, since I am using the beds, I don’t have anything to attach to. (You use baling twine. First, run tie-wire along the base of the T-Frame, nailed to the T-Frames at ground level the full length of the bed. Tie the twine to the wire or pipe, etc. at the top, then drop it down and tie it to the wire at the bottom. Run strings from both sides of the T-Frames down to the same wire. Then guide the plants up the strings, alternating between the near and far sides of the T-Frame)

9. I am doing a “trial run” this fall. I will be starting with three rows. I am in central Alabama. (where, exactly? I have a part-time home in Birmingham, and would love to meet you if we can work it out.)

10. QUESTION: If I cover each bed with the plastic greenhouse mentioned will that significantly increase my growing season (in Alabama) and ultimately the produce I gain? (So long as you can avoid frost getting to your plants, you can keep them growing, and thus producing.  You must remember to keep feeding them until 8 weeks before you expect to stop production.)