Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

What. Is. TORMATO?!?!

skyspiral

What the heck is that thing? Some mad science experiment gone awry? Yard Art? The redheaded stepchild of Dr. Seuss?

 

 

It's the Tormato!! And it's going to make your tomato growing experience a lot easier, and quite a bit more interesting.

 

It's cheap, easy, and fun to make!

 

It is made of 1 1/4 inch PVC, and 1/2 inch PEX tubing.

 

It's primary uses is to replace those wretched tomato cages, but it can be used as a trellis system, and a nutrient delivery system!

 


6.27-trellis-2

Tormato With Trellis and Nutrient Delivery System

Here is a feeding tube coming from the irrigation system through the PVC and feeding the roots of the plant. If an irrigation system is not in place, simply drill some smallish holes in the stake end of the Tormato, and a hole to insert the hose or watering can of choice into and feed right down to the roots of the plant. Just like they like it!

 

The Tormato is also functioning as a trellis here. This tormato has the optional trellis cap. A string is dropped down from there, and the tomato is gently twisted around the string as it grows.

 

I hope you'll look around and decide to try one... Or a dozen!

 

I came up with this crazy idea during my massive spring fever this year, and this is the trial year for the Tormato! I had initially wanted to make a freestanding version out of conduit, but was not having much success with my pipe bending skills. Then one day, it hit me. PEX!! and PVC!! Both are fairly cheap (10 ft of 1 1/4 inch PVC is about $2.00, 20 feet of 1/2 inch Pex is about $6.00)

 

I'm expecting good results (i.e less time spent tying up my plants in the garden) and will be documenting my experience with my Tormatos here. I'm looking for others who may want to try this system and have other modifications.

 

 

Comments

avatar dollyhood
0
 
 
Whoa!
avatar rc
-8
 
 
Dude, you're an idiot to come up with such a great idea and then post pics of it on the internet!. Have you ever heard of a patent/trademark?!
avatar admin
+3
 
 
Yes, but .....ok. I'm an idiot.
avatar David Brady
+9
 
 
No, you're not. I for one am not outraged that you did not think first of how to gouge people for this idea, but instead of how to share it with others.

If you want to stop companies from stealing this idea and patenting it for mass-production, you can still do so. Just get your patent app in, and whether it is granted or not you will have demonstrated prior art to prevent anybody else from getting the patent as well.

Thank you and good luck!
avatar admin
+7
 
 
Thank you David. You restored my faith in humanity for today.
avatar Jill
+1
 
 
I'm interested to see how long the PEX holds up. One season or many years? One of the big downsides to the product is it is specifically recommended to NOT be used in direct sunlight. No worries for your purpose but I think it'd be interesting to learn how long it actually lasts.

That alone would kill commercial potential so don't lose any sleep thinking you gave away a fortune.
avatar admin
0
 
 
It will indeed be interesting to see! I imagine that over time it will become more brittle, but I really don't know!
avatar Projector Lamp
0
 
 
specifically recommended to NOT be used in direct sunlight. No worries for your purpose but I think it'd be interesting to learn how long it actually lasts.
avatar zxxxx1234
+1
 
 
What a funky practical idea I will be building a half-dozen of these within a week.
essay | dissertation | thesis
avatar Jeff A.
+1
 
 
Could you post a better photo of the top of your system. I'm having trouble seeing how it's all connected together. Looks like a great system, though....
avatar Jeff A.
+1
 
 
Ok - I jumped the gun. Just saw your "Instructions" tab. Sorry to clutter up your comments...
avatar admin
+1
 
 
no problem. the comments were a veritable void anyhow.
avatar wooac
+1
 
 
None of this piping looks UV resistant.
avatar admin
0
 
 
I've been using PVC for various garden projects over the years, and haven't had a problem with it deteriorating? Is there something else bad that would happen to it in the sunlight?
avatar LeeH
0
 
 
The problem with PVC in the sun is that it will lose its ability to hold its rated water pressure. Since you not using it to pipe water at normal pressure 30-100psi. It should last for years.
avatar admin
0
 
 
Thanks Lee!
avatar someguy
+1
 
 
Gee. Here I thought Tormato was an album by Yes.
avatar admin
+1
 
 
Yeah, I apparently slept through the 70's.
avatar Barry Bostwick
0
 
 
NICE!!! LOL
avatar IndyGardener
+1
 
 
You need another poll choice: "It makes me dizzy. Please continue."

Don't know if I am going to try it this year, but I just might. Flimsy tomato cages are of the devil. My father had a different solution: he'd drive four 1x1s into a square around each plant and tie strips of shredded sheet around them for supports. Better than the cage, but not attractive and lacks the tormato nutrient delivery system.

Besides, yours looks cool as hell.

I share the stability concern someone else mentioned elsewhere on the site... I might build one with PVC on either side. I'll let ya know. Any concerns about that idea?
avatar admin
0
 
 
Hi Indy,
Your dads system sounds like my Gramma's system, only 4 times more elaborate. :)
I had thought of a system with PVC on both sides (measuring might be REALLY tricky) but as I was building it seemed to snug up really nicely with the tension & torsion combination. I'm not really concerned with the spirals falling.....the only reason I could see this happening is if the Pex got SUPER hot and turned flexible ....but it is designed for delivery of hot water, so I do not see this happening. I wish I had some way of testing foot/pounds on the spirals, but it seems pretty sturdy.

Please let me know if you do make a 2 PVC version! I'd be interested in seeing it in action!
avatar Cober
+1
 
 
I had heard that PVCs leeched some chemical, and therefore shouldn't be used for food prep.
avatar admin
-1
 
 
I'm reading up on this. Saran wrap is PVC....and most of us let that directly touch our food? Most of our water runs down our drains made of PVC, and then is recycled by our municipalities back into our homes. I'm pretty sure that letting the PVC touch the dirt that our food is raised in is a not so risky behavior. That said...I have long been an avid organic gardener and am open to PVC alternatives for those who are PVC opposed. So far we have suggestions for Bamboo and HDPE.
avatar Dan Hughes
+1
 
 
Yeah... your right. PVC is full of all kinds of yummy things like mercury, dioxins, and phthalates. In addition to making the plastic kinda bendy and less brittle, they can also cause cancer, weaken your immune system and make you sterile. Additionally, you can't safely recycle it (in fact... if it gets mixed in by accident it can screw up an entire batch). You can't throw it out b/c the poisons leach into the groud water... oh, and burning it makes the situation about 10x worse becuase then all those yummy chemicals become inhalants.

PEX - cross linked polyethylene (as partly used here) is actually a pretty good alternative. There is no perfect solution, but you could also consider ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). ABS is only marginally better... but it's less likely to poison though it's intended use, the problems kick in with disposal.
avatar admin
0
 
 
Thanks for the information Dan. I'll look at alternative materials for the "stake" portion. Probably a 2x2 would work fine.....though you'd lose the nutrient delivery system.
avatar ron
+1
 
 
if you dont care about the irrigation aspect (i dont) you can probably find someones out of control bamboo grove, cut some down and make some bamboo poles to replace the PVC.
avatar admin
+2
 
 
Maybe even find some bamboo large enough to keep the nutrient delivery system! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we don't have bamboo around these parts. Thanks Ron!
avatar ElectroFox
+1
 
 
Hell, you can make some quality bongs from the scraps...
avatar Eric
+2
 
 
Hey, you oughta submit this to Make Magazine's blog http://blog.makezine.com This is just the type of stuff they love and they won't give you hell for "open sourcing" it either.
avatar admin
+2
 
 
Thanks for dropping by Eric!
I already submitted to Make (and LifeHacker also)...I hope to hear back from them soon!
avatar tormatohead
0
 
 
Is that a donations button I see there at the top on the left? I for one will definitely send money, and maybe some tomatoes too! Thanks for revolutionizing the growing of delicious tomatoes!
avatar admin
+2
 
 
Donate button is down in the footer. Send $$$ and tomatoes ....or just heirloom seeds.
avatar Cheap Trainers
0
 
 
This is great
avatar Kuhlunkel
0
 
 
Interesting and aesthetically pleasing. How is this thing functionally superior to a wire cage? Do you have any composting systems you could share? Hothouses? Keep up the good work.
avatar Mary
+1
 
 
rigid PVC is going to be fine--should not leach much of anything--there 's tons of misinformation on internet about that. Flexible PVC is not-so good, nor if the rigid PVC is in contact w/ certain metals (that sets off a chemical reaction.)
avatar Mary
+1
 
 
avatar admin
0
 
 
Thanks Mary!

Looks like it is the solvents used to weld the PVC bits together are maybe what cause the leeching? I have not used any solvents in the system, it is all friction fitted......maybe no worries!

Thanks for the information :)
avatar admin
0
 
 
damn spam robots. sorry. You'll now need to enter the verification code.
avatar Fiona
0
 
 
Nice idea! I have been thinking of how to make my own one of these supports from Lakeland Plastics (see link) in the UK which are very similar but without the nutrient delivery.
avatar Yessir
0
 
 
I am literally listening to the CD "Tormato" by Yes. Wanting to know more about it's history, I do a web search, and am here with you now. Freaky dude. Back to the 70's.
I only recently got a garden after living in apartments for the past 5 years and I'm well looking forward to getting some toms out into the veg patch.
avatar admin
0
 
 
If you're planning on growing them big and tall.....this is the way to go!
avatar jim
0
 
 
go with copper, thats what your water comes from.
avatar Scott
0
 
 
Ok, I made 3 of these for my plants this year and I only made them 5 feet tall having 1 foot in the ground. My bad, My tomato plants grew to the top, over the top and back down to the ground. I never thought in a million years I would need these to be at least 8 feet fall with a couple feet in the ground. My plants with big heavy fruit have all but pulled the pex down. Next years will need to be much bigger around and way taller. Good job of coming up with this idea. I do believe I will make next years have 2 supports.

avatar admin
0
 
 
Hi Scott!
Could you send a picture of the problem you are having with the Pex? Mine is holding quite steady so I can only guess that there is not enough torsion on the pex...my guess is the space between the pex loops is less than 6 inches? Either that or they were not pulled tight enough?
avatar Crystal
0
 
 
This is an awesome idea. I can't wait to try it in my garden.
avatar admin
0
 
 
:-)
avatar Yer Fan
0
 
 
What a genius idea! And I agree with the first commenter that you should have this patented and registered. I assume this can also be used for other plants that need support or vines to hold on to. If you get tired of using this, I see it can also make for a nifty garden ornament ;)
avatar paulw
0
 
 
COOL Idea. I think I'm going to try a few of these this year (2010). Plants are in the ground now. Got any updates or suggestions? Any recommendations on hole spacing for the pex. Looks like the bottom/top ones are about 4"-6" from the second holes, and then about a foot apart after that. Will nylon string work for the center string?

Instead of 1 free standing pole per tomato plant, I may join the tops of many Tormatoes together with T couplers and corner couplers and try to make a grid of 4x8 tormatos. If it works, I'll send a pic. But, then again, that will add cost and may add to the wife complaining about what is that big ugly thing in my back yard kind of questions. It would be good to hold up some bird netting though and keep them Mockingbirds and squirrels out of my maters. :) Thanks.

avatar admin
0
 
 
Hi Paul,
Glad to hear you're thinking of trying the tormato. The spacing all depends on your needs. My lower spirals are closer together because I put the starters in the ground when they are very small and only leave a few inches of the plant above ground (trenching). 4-6" works good to keep the tomato plants off the ground when they are small. 8-12" spacing works for the remainder of the spirals --I find I like the ones with the 8" -10" spacing more.
I used Nylon string for my center string and it held well. Please do send pictures!
Thanks for stopping by,
Laura
avatar Wood Veneer
0
 
 
Looking forward to making one this coming spring. I guess I can start working on it now though.
What a funky, practical idea! I will be building a half-dozen of these within a week.

Thanks for sharing!
avatar admin
0
 
 
I'm pretty sure you'll love em! Send pictures if you can!
Another simple way to deliver water to tomato roots - cut the bottoms off of a couple of 2 litre soda bottles. Bury them about 8" out from the base of the tomato with the cap end down. Just fill these with water once or twice a day depending on your climate. I find once per day is fine where we live. I also add some fertilizer midway into the growing season.
avatar mac data recovery
+1
 
 
This is a pretty intuitive way to solve the problem. In Jamaica, what we would do is just stick a twig beside the stem and then just tie it to the twig. Messy solution, but it worked for the most part
avatar Wanda
0
 
 
thank you very much
avatar labatterie
0
 
 
Another simple way to deliver water to tomato roots - cut the bottoms off of a couple of 2 litre soda bottles.
avatar Jamaican Dude
-1
 
 
This is a pretty intuitive way to solve the problem. In Jamaica, what we would do is just stick a twig beside the stem and then just tie it to the twig. Messy solution, but it worked for the most part
avatar temparay walls nyc
0
 
 
Nice and cute invention.. A big help for the agriculture industry!!
avatar Oxy
0
 
 
Might be a silly question... I'm no gardener, this is for my Mama. Do the holes or the 45 degree angle face the roots of the tomatoes? Thank you for the 'ible!
avatar Admin
0
 
 
face them towards the roots...though the roots will eventually grow toward the water, and the capillary action of water will disperse it underneath the soil.
come up with such a great idea and then post pics of it on the internet!. Have you ever heard of a patent/trademark?!
i must say thats a beautiful garden.....
brilliant invention, only wish that i had a big enough yard for it.
Hey..It just supports the plant on his place right???
This is a fantastic invention. I always have a tough time with tomatoes, I wish I came across this at the beginning of this season. Will get two for next.
Please login to post comments or replies.