Jan 6, 2009 | 1:15 PM PST
, flat screen training
Today is the day. Dad has been monitoring the plants more closely than I lately and figured that one of Fat Mamma's shoots was tall enough to start the weave. Such was his enthusiasm that he came home on his lunch break and rolled me out of bed before it was even noon yet to commence the first step in the weave. Without further adieu, here is a step-by-step pictorial how-to on flat-screen training.
^first pinch the stem adjacent to the wire where the shoot has come up similar to the supercropping process. However, do not pinch and rotate and do not pinch from multimple directions as usual. You want to flatten the stem slightly so that it easily beds over the adjacent wire so that it looks like this:
^Obse rve the flatness just above my left thumb. Next you will bend the plant over the adjacent wire as shown below. It should give quite easily due to the flattening process, if it doesn't, re-pinch and start again.
Now that you have gotten the stem at a 90-ish degree angle along the "boarder" wire that separates the hole in the screen the shoot grew up through from the adjacent hole you are aiming for you can begin to pull it through like this:
^pulling^ Be careful during this step and bunch up the leaves so that they don't tear on the way through. If you did it right the hard part is over and the plant should now look like this: ^neatly tucked beneath the screen^ Note how I've managed the leaves, pulling them through adjacent holes and letting them come to rest on top, the opposite of what is done to the plants that this technique was developed for. Now all that is left to do is poke the top of the crown through the next hole over, the third one involved in this process: ^the completed weave^ Jobs a good'un. You may want to sort out the smaller leaves near the top of the crown and get them laying on top of the screen where they belong. Also, once the crown is in its final position I like to supercrop all of the horizontal stem section except for the very top node to lock the vine into place and toughen up the stem to avoid any abrasive effect that the wire might have on the skin. Now the crown will soon resume growth and turn upwards towards the light. Once it has gotten 3 or 4 inches tall we will repeat the process and the cycle will continue indefinitely. I hope this has been informative, good luck and happy gardening! -Zach
Jan 6, 2009 | 2:44 PM PST
Now Pyoung, we are here way up north and we have not seen temperatures above 35 in weeks. I get home from work, walk on to the porch and stare at these things. Today we actually got to touch them.
Jan 6, 2009 | 3:10 PM PST
See like I said what do I know. Um I was outside doing a few things in a tee shirt and short pants... I know the reward tho for that hard work will be well worth it. Nothing like a fresh tomato and bacon sandwich! Come on spring.
By the way what size is that chicken wire? The holes 2 or 3 inches?
Jan 6, 2009 | 3:21 PM PST
Now, what is the advantage of growing a tomato this way? How many stems have to be flattened? Seems like a lot of work but maybe the result is well worth it? Keep us updated and show some pictures before harvest.
Jan 6, 2009 | 3:46 PM PST
The outcome is to grow indoor tomatoes under lights and to try to not let them get out of hand. The flat screen orients the plant to the light, so the whole plant is within 12 to 16 inches of the HID light source. These are large indeterminate plants, so we are hoping they will produce this winter and next summer as well. My yard is so shady my outdoor plants do very poorly
Pyoung the wire is 3 inch. It is also very flexible and does not seem to hurt the plants.
Gardenbug, the stems are flattened every time the vine goes through the mesh. Since it is in the house, 5 minutes a day get's the job done.