About the Tormato!


What. Is. TORMATO?!?!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009 07:31 Laura Crichton

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 use is to replace those wretched tomato cages, but it can be used as a trellis system, and a nutrient delivery system!



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.

17 thoughts on “About the Tormato!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I use 8 ft PVC, and cut it down to around 7 to 7.5 feet.  The holes (for pex) can be anywhere from 8-12 inches, the farther apart, the more tension is created on the spiral.

      More info on the “Considerations” page on this.


      Thanks for your interest in the Tormato!  Happy growing.  🙂

    1. Hi Maxine,

      My method of getting it in the ground is to grab it by the pex (close to the PVC) and spin it around like an auger–due to the slanted end, it’ll drive right in. If This doesn’t work for your soil, dig a hole tamp it down well when finished. 

      Pro Tip: Clear the bottom of the PVC out after each season–use a hose if necessary– and they’ll be easier to drive into the ground.

  1.  I'm going to give this a try this year, but am wondering about the string. In our windy area, will it tangle and kill the plants in the early stages? I also think I'll set it on top of a rebar post rather than try to drive the pvc into the ground. 

    1. Hi Patty,

      I live in Wisconsin, and we have a fair amount of wind, too.  I haven’t had any issues with the string strangling the plants –hadn’t even really given it a thought.  In my 8 years of using the Tormato, I haven’t had a single plant strangulation.  🙂

  2. The downside of PEX is that it isn’t suitable for aboveground outdoor plumbing installations. This is because it easily gets damaged by UV rays.

    Effect of Sunlight on PEX Piping

    PEX piping is highly susceptible to damage by sunlight. If exposed to sunlight, the molecular structure disintegrates. This causes the piping to become brittle and rupture. Indoor PEX installations require a covered environment. This helps to prevent exposure to direct sunlight. However, during construction, short exposure to sunlight is sometimes unavoidable. Such exposure should not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations. It is best to maintain the original packaging when you install the tubing. If the packaging is unavailable, you need to provide some shield to prevent damage from UV exposure. Cover the tubing with some opaque material. Black polyethylene bags can be used. Most manufacturers put UV stabilizers in PEX tubing to provide at least 30 to 60 days UV protection. This helps to protect the PEX in case of project delays.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Felicia.  My Pex tormato’s have been in use since 2010, and show only moderate signs of fading, and none of the pex has cracked.  

    2. Hi Felicia,

      The Tormato’s I made in 2010 are going into their 10th summer this year. They’re stored in a stack outdoors during the winter months. So far they have shown no sign of breaking down or becoming brittle. I literally toss them across the yard when I’m cleaning up every fall, and there has been no breakage. *Maybe* a little bit of color fading, but really, the PEX has held up very, very well. I tried a fair number of materials when designing these, and PEX seems to have been a very good choice.

  3. Hi Laura

    This MIke.. I'm Rob Brunners brother.  He told me of your invention… Planning

    on using your great idea on my Tomatoes.. Thanks

    1. Hi Mike!
      Mine have been functioning since 2010, and I’ve found them to be a real time saver.  Hope you enjoy them as well!

  4. I am so interested to try this! How was it at holder g up the weight and do you think you’ll do it again?

    1. Hi Megan,

      The tormatos hold up the weight of the tomato plants really well.  Mine will be going in the ground for their 8th season this year, and I wouldn’t think of growing them any other way!

  5. I really like it (I hate the tomato cage too 🙂 ).  It's collapasible and no real height limit.  But, what is the purpose of the string?  Do you need it – a tomato cage doesn't have one? Do you have any pictures you can share at the end of the season?  Thanks again for sharing.   Patrick

    1. Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for visiting my site!  The string provides extra support when the tomato plants are young and can be used for trellising as the plant grows.  As it gets taller, simply guide it around the string.  It is not needed, but may be desirable.
      Here’s some info: https://www.wp.itsatormato.com/?p=142

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