Garden Tags, Tomato Towers, and Transplants

Garden Tags, Tomato Towers, and Transplants

Tomato towers from Farmhouse38.comI am always very obsessive and gluttonous about my tomatoes.  I tend to go overboard with too many varieties (for our little lot), and should probably be giving up a few of them in exchange for some other veggies.  But, no.  Mine is a tomato-heavy garden.  And that’s the way I like it.

We are currently in the process of tucking all of our precious little seedlings (tomato and non-tomato) all throughout the garden.  I figured I would show you one such spot, and a couple of corresponding projects.

Last year, we bought these great little ladder-style free-standing trellises from Lowe’s, and I decided to see how they did with the tomatoes.

Trellises from Lowe's at Farmhouse38.com

In a nutshell, they were okay, but not great for this purpose.  I figured out pretty quickly that when I used them this year, I would be making some modifications.  So I split them all in half, and then, with some handy-dandy zip ties, I put them back together as an actual tower (if I had had enough, I would have preferred to use some raffia-covered wire instead of zip ties, for aesthetic purposes–but I was out and too impatient to get this done….so, zip ties, it is!)

Tomato towers from Farmhouse38.com
I simply put three ‘halves’ together in triangle formation, and zip tied each corner, top and bottom.

I attached a strip of burlap around the base for one very important reason: CHICKENS.  This is to prevent them from sticking their interloping little paws in there and innocently digging up the seedlings.  Additionally, I did a little ‘companion planting’, and added some marigolds and basil around the base of each tower; these plants are supposed to help the tomatoes by deterring pests (chickens included).  Last season, I was amazed at how the girls were completely uninterested in the marigolds (aside from accidentally kicking a few young plants over as they do their little chicken-boogies in the dirt).  This season, I’ve been planting a lot of basil (due to its alleged fly-repelling properties), and lo and behold, the chickens steer clear of it, as well!

As we have been transferring plants out into the garden, I’ve been in dire need of tags.  You may remember my Chalkboard Plant Markers from Old Gift Cards–which are all well and good, except for the fact that I am out of gift and club cards to use!  So I was scrambling for something else, when I suddenly realized that I have been keeping all the little plastic markers that come with nursery plants.  Lightbulb moment!

Upcycle plastic nursery markers into chalkboard markers by Farmhouse38.com
Yet again, I cannot believe that these have been staring me in the face for SO LONG. I have SO MANY OF THESE stored up!

So yeah….hit these with some chalkboard spray paint, and then take a white grease pencil to them:

Upcycled plastic plant nursery tags, coated in chalkboard paint to be re-used as new plant markers. Farmhouse38.comI wanted to use these as tags tied to my tomato towers, and many of them actually come with a built-in hole in the pointy end (but those that didn’t, I just used a hole-punch to remedy that), so I strung them with twine and tied them on:

Upcycled plastic nursery plant marker at Farmhouse38.comFor plants that don’t have a cage to tie to, you can just pop them in the ground like they come in your nursery packs.  However, in this garden, those things do not stand up to scratching chicken feet; they get flung like tiny frisbees across the yard.  I usually punch a hole, once again, in the pointy end, and then anchor them into the ground with a landscape staple.

Upcycled plant markers at Farmhouse38.com
Hello, blurry photo!!!
Upcycled nursery tag plant marker from Farmhouse38.com
Once securely in the ground, these are pretty chicken-scratch sturdy.

You may have noticed the chicken wire that has been mounted on the fence behind the tomato towers.

Tomato bed at Farmhouse38.comThat is for our hops to hopefully train up on (and simultaneously protect the current little seedlings from chicken demolition).

Hops seedling at Farmhouse38.com
Baby hops, tucked safely under the chicken wire.

This is our first time growing hops–so I have no idea if this is going to work!

But….back to the tomatoes….hopefully very soon I’ll be sharing photos like this again:

Garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes from Farmhouse38.com
Joy!!!

And this:

Garden-fresh monster heirloom tomato from Farmhouse38.com
Super-sized joy!!!

19 Comments

  1. Karen

    I LOVE the tag ideas that you had! I’m always saying that I’d find something to do with them….now I do! Thanks!

  2. Swoon. Such pretty images 🙂 Love them all!

  3. Beautiful garden!

  4. We just planted our vegetables last week. Of course it’s cold today and I’m worried about frost 🙁 Hope your garden does well this year!

  5. I shared your post with another chicken lady. Ah, fresh produce and home grown tomatoes–nothing like it, except for the smile and tummy factor. Happy Holiday!

  6. Naomi

    Lovely garden! Is the hops just to keep the chickens away or is there another purpose to growing the hops?

  7. Holly

    Love, love, love the garden tags! How cleaver to use chalkboard paint, it really makes them stand out. I used post-it notes stapled to toothpicks when I planted my seeds in the mini greenhouse, but those didn’t last long when I needed to transplant the seedlings outdoors. I am going to get a can of paint tomorrow because I too have a bunch of the old tags (that don’t match what I have planted currently) just laying around.

    You are so clever!

  8. I am the same as you. I go way overboard with tomatoes. I definitely plant too many. I alos love the ladder idea and your garden tags. Currently I just saw down to a 1/2″ thick some wood and write on it with permanent marker to mark my plants.

    • Oh, those sound cool, Mike!!! If it ain’t broke–don’t fix it! 😀 Cheers to too many tomatoes!

  9. jean

    Now I know you are so creative. You’ve got great ideas. Love the ladders and garden tags. Hope you get tons of tomatoes this year!

  10. I’ve not found a tomato tower that works yet. Last one I tried was three 6-ft T-posts (pounded in a foot into the ground, making it 5-ft tall). The tomatoes simply grew out of the top, then trailed back down to the ground!! I pulled one tomato “tree” that was 10 feet long — with a 2-ft long tap root. Dang.

    I finally just gave up on fencing and supporting altogether. Just too much trouble (but I don’t have critters like you either). I just let them run along the ground and prop up the fruiting portions with Y-shaped sticks taken from trees in my yard. Makes picking a bit easier, but I can now change the phrase “Run over by a pumpkin vine” with “Run over by a tomato vine!”

    • I know! I struggle with this every year! Because we are so limited on space, I try to contain them, but they definitely defy me—I had one last year that I let scramble through some of my rose bushes (I kind of enjoyed seeing rose blooms and tomatoes tangled up), and it did so well that I left it in the ground and it kept producing all year long–I only JUST took it out of the ground recently!

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