In a post I wrote last spring, I mentioned that I was going to try growing tomatoes on a grid this summer. If I remember well, I got the idea from Fine Gardening. I did put up such a grid and found out it had several advantages, but also a few drawbacks. Here is my assessment of this technique.
The grid element is made up of pieces of heavy gauge wire sold as a reinforcement for concrete. I simply nailed these 4'x8' sections on posts and planted the tomatoes at the base. The main drawback is the work involved as you have to dig up holes to put in the posts and nail up the grids to then. There is also the expense involved in buying the material, but that was not much.
As far as the convenience of this kind of support for growing tomatoes, it was very convenient. I wove the plants in the wire support as they grew, and they stayed up. The tomatoes were never lying on the ground where they get muddy and can be attacked by slugs. They were also less shaded than when you use tomato "cages" and so ripened well.
Another advantage is that I was able to tie labels with the names of the different varieties at the top of the grid where they were obvious and easy to read. I did not have to rummage in the ground around the plants to find the labels, and they did not get lost. I left them on the grid and will be able to use them again next year as they are aluminum labels (See my previous post entitled "Blind Labels").
However, leaving that set up in place for next year means no crop rotation for the tomatoes, and moving it will be a fair bit of work. I had thought I might use the supports for pole beans next year, but they are not tall enough. I expect I can get away with growing tomatoes in the same spot two years in a row. I put most of the compost I took out of planters (see previous post) where the tomatoes were, which added at least 10 cm of new, rich soil. I also covered the rows with a thick layer of leaf mould which means that the bed is ready to receive the new tomato plants next year.