I planted 36 tomato plants this year…
Half again as many as I usually plant…one bed is dedicated to nothing but saucing tomatoes.
They are in three different of my 4′ x 12′ beds. I usually put them in the ground, surround them by their tomato cages and then cover them with clear plastic to give them a good head start in our notoriously fickle Northwest weather. I was tired of having to drain off the rain that would gather in pools on the top of the cages so I tried tunnels this year.
I used concrete reinforcing mesh. I thought I would have to build a frame for it but it fits perfectly within the width of my beds and is held in place with tension. The plastic is just laid over the top and held down by bricks. I close up the ends at night and on cooler days. I take the plastic all the way off if it is going to be very warm.
If you ever use tunnels you will find that is it shocking how fast the air temperature rises with even a little sunshine. I put a thermometer in one of the tunnels, on a sunny day in the upper 60′sF it can but above 100F in the tunnel, so extreme caution must be used not to cook your plants.
Since it is now almost June I have removed the plastic for the season, it has been stored for next year. After looking at last year’s notes I have noticed that my tomatoes are slightly ahead of last years in maturity. They bloomed a few days earlier and are slightly larger. I know this could be from a difference in spring weather from last year but it could be from the cozy environment the tunnels produce.
I will leave the wire in place through out the season and just let the tomatoes grow up through it. When they reach the top I will have to figure out how to support them from there….hmmm I will have to think on that one!
If you have any ideas please let me know!