Ultomato Stakes And The EarthBox — Getting It To Fit

by A.J. Coltrane

In 2013 we used Ultomato stakes in many of the EarthBoxes. One of the early hodge-podge attempts is shown on June 3 of last year, here. We had a couple of boxes where the stakes wound up branching out in many directions, and to some degree it was a struggle to get everything to fit together. More than a few of the “arms” got warped in the process. Even with a “regular”, symmetrical, setup it can be hard to get the poles just the right distance apart for the arms.

What we learned is that the right thing to do is to assemble the Ultomato cage, *then* put it into the EarthBox. Using a “break” in the concrete ensures that all the stakes line up:

140525 ultomato

It seems to be easiest to put on the arms open-side up, pushing the stakes onto the arms, rather than the other way around. Like this:

140525 ultomato close up

And (Note the bent arms. Those went on last.):

140525 ultomato

We’d then flip the entire thing over and “close the loop” with the last of the arms. This leaves the open sides of the arms facing out so that if the plants push outwards the arms won’t pop off of the stakes.

The best path to success is to push the center two poles in slightly, then work the corners in a little bit at a time. Once all of the poles are in place it’s easy to push the whole thing firmly down into the box. In the next picture you can see the arms facing “out”.

140525 ultomato installed

And sure enough, we learned something this year too. The arms need be attached closer to the top and bottom of the stakes. Once the assembly is in place it’s really hard to put on arms closer to the surface of the box.

Fortunately, we’ve got garden twine.


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