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Gardening Question: Homemade Tomato Cages?

May 26th, 2007 at 04:08 pm

My grape tomato seedlings are about ready to transplant. I've been "hardening them off" ... a month ago I did not even know what that meant!

Because I have no more "$20 Challenge" funds left without "charging it" and because I'm moving in the fall and don't want any more STUFF, I'm looking for suggestions on how to make homemade, disposable tomato cages. Could I make them out of old wire hangers, or would those be too flimsy?

4 Responses to “Gardening Question: Homemade Tomato Cages?”

  1. wyozozo Says:

    Lots of different ideas here:

    http://www.gardeners.com/Tomato-Support-Techniques/default/5378.page

  2. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    In this situation, I would skip making cages and instead use stakes. Any tall, sturdy piece of wood or metal will do. Rebar is great. You can even use tree branches which have been well-trimmed of leaves and side branches. Try to find something like a 2 X 2, at least six feet tall. Taller would be better, especially if your plants are "indeterminant," meaning that their height is limited only by the length of the growing season. Mallet your stake into the ground firmly and deeply. Deeply, because it needs to be able to support the weight of the tomato vine and fruits. Set it anywhere from 6 inches to one foot from the tomato plant, just keeping in mind that you'd rather not damage the roots as you push and pound in the stake. As the tomato plant grows, secure the plant to the stake using soft strips of cloth. The classic thing to use is old nylon hosiery. The stake will bear the weight of the plant. You can put two stake per plant for more security.

    I don't know if you've grown tomatoes before, but those wimpy little wire cages, 2 or 3 feet tall sold in stores are completely inadequate for tomato vines. So you don't want to try to make something like them. Most tomatoes will grow at least five feet tall. I can't rmember the last time I grew a tomato only five feet tall. Mine normally spill over the tops of six foot tall cages, and cascade downward from there.

    There is also the option of growing them "upside down" which means suspending the plants in large hanging pots or in pots atop sturdy posts. You then just let the long vines cascade downward. Ideally, use very large pots and very sturdy suspension because the wet soil plus tomato vine with fruit will add up to a lot of weight.

    Lastly, you can let the tomatoes grow out over the ground. Support is not totally necessary. We did that with about 1/3 of our tomatoes when I was a kid, but we had acres to work with.

  3. contrary1 Says:

    I've never used cages. I think it's just one more thing stores want you to THINK you need.
    Stakes are fine. If possible, a couple on each side, behind the plant, with a couple cross pieces attached to each. Sort of like a ladder looking event. An actual ladder leaned up against the house would work too...
    If you can plant right up next to a building, a few cup hooks screwed into the wall work to run twine in and around. The goal being to hold the vines up off the ground.

    At large tomato farms in Eastern WA, I've picked the tomatoes from vines that aren't caged, or tied up at all. Deep irrigation ditches run between rows of plants that are totally on their own. Only difficulty is the tomatoes get a tad muddy.

    And, if your plant is a patio variety, they won't need much staking anyway. Bred to be small, dwarf sort of plant.

    Glad to see you're venturing into gardening, the fresh food will be soooo good when you harvest, you'll be sold on the hobby!

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