Any advice on making tomato cages?

throgmorten(Zone 5 IN)March 17, 2006

I looked through the posts and didn't see any about making tomato cages. The one I bought last year only cost a few bucks, but my tomato tore it to shreds. I'm told that a studier one will work much better, but I don't want to spend $30 on one.

Does anyone have any tips/instructions on making sturdy tomato cages. Or alternately, a source of cheap yet sturdy cages?

By the way, I'm growing tomatoes in containers.


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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

I have some cages that I use but I also use stakes and other methods as well but the biggest heaviest cage here only costs about 3.98 and using it with a stake will hold up even a huge tomato...Do you have a Home Depot or Wal-Mart in your area...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 3:07PM
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Check the Growing Tomatoes forum. There are several active threads on cages and other methods.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 6:42PM
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I grew tomatoes in containers last year and I used one bamboo stake stuck in the middle for support and it worked out really well. My tomatoes were indeterminate. What I did was trained it to grow around the bamboo by spiralling the top of the plant around the stake as it grew. I used the six foot tall stakes. If your plant starts out growing that just snip the top of the plant and it will stop growing.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 9:34PM
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try to find some old wire fencing material. Maybe your neighbor has some or go to the junk yard. Make sure the openings in the wire are large enough. For example, my dad has an old roll of 1047-12-11 farm fence wire. It's sturdy and can be made into a cage for tomatoes! Don't buy a roll of it (costs around $100/roll) just ask your neighbors. You could also contact your local extension master gardener club for more info.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 10:19AM
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Hi -

Get some concrete reinforcing wire and make circular cages. Works great. Cut off some of the horizontal pieces at the bottom so you get "legs" and stab them into the ground. I still put a stake inside mine to stabilize the cage because the tomatoes get so big.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 1:13PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

I have a gazillion tomato cages (okay, probably 40-50) and I got them all free. Some were from my mom, some from my brother, many were found in people's trash. Most recently I get them from the metal recycling area at my local dump/recycling center. People bring them in to recycle, and sometimes they get set to the side so that someone else can take them. Otherwise, as I have no shame, I pull them out of the dumpster! I also get almost all my metal fencing this way, I bought some once years ago when I was less frugal. Seek and ye shall find! This is a good time of year to find them, people are cleaning out their garage. Drive around in the suburbs on trash day is my best advice, although I found all mine accidentally without even trying. Also my wheelbarrows and trellises and many pots. Many people are so stupid and wasteful, use it to your advantage. I also got a lot of bamboo stakes free.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 2:08AM
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I hate tomato cages. I plant over 40 plants every year and dealing with that many cages is just a pain. I drive metal fence posts every 5 feet along the row and hang woven wire stock fence. I then tie or weave the plants through the fence. I store the fence flat by hanging it on the existing garden fence. I've used some of the same pieces of stock fence now for nearly 10 years. Pieces that have gotten too bent up are turned into permanent deer guards for sensitive ornamentals outside the veggie garden (lillies).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 9:56AM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

I've torn up old stock fence for trellises, used cut sappling stakes, and tried Florida weave, but by far the easiest, most time saving method was concrete wire mesh cages. The internet sites make it seem much more difficult than it is to make them.

The only problem is money for a roll of the wire (about a buck a foot), a small-medium bolt cutter (not a wire cutter- wire is too tough), and transport from the store to site (pickup truck).

I converted a 150 ft roll into two dozen cages in a morning (including driving to the store to get the stuff) wearing shorts and sandals -not recommended if you are a clutz, or working near a clutz. Stand the roll on end and let it naturally spring open a bit. Cut down the row of the 12th square (for a 21 inch cage), leaving a wire ends to bend over to secure (no cable ties needed). I cut the bottom ring off to make bottom spikes but wish I had not. A wind storm knocked every last cage over so if I have to stake them up anyway I want that extra six inches of height. An easy way to stabilize the cages for periodic high winds is to put a heavy stake/post at the end of each row and run a rope/cable between them over top of (or through) the cages and then tie the cages to the cable. I do the same with rows of stakes (tie them to a rope between 2 T-posts) because it lets me use lighter stakes for heavier plants.

If you don't need all the cages a roll of wire will make I bet that you could easily sell the extra cages and make most of your money back for the ones you keep.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 3:18PM
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The only thing I might do different with the cages is buy some Tent pegs and use them to hold the cage down, they are less work and will hold up for a few years. If you don't have the room to store then make them four sided [square] making the wire loops so as the sides can be folded and reduce the storage required. It will require a little more work and time, but if you need the space why not!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 1:50PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

I don't like cages -- they are too short for the indeterminate varieties I prefer and I think that confining the vines that way favors diseases from poor air circulation.

I like old-fashioned stakes.

This year, not having access to locust saplings, bamboo, or any other such found material, I went to Lowes and bought a bundle of furring strips for 98 cents each.

It appears that the exact same thing is being sold in the garden center for over $5 each. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 3:41PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

killherbs, what are furring strips? What part of Lowe's could I find them in?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 5:43PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

Furring strips are 1x2x8 pine boards used to provide a nailing surface for certain materials over masonry construction. You'll find them in the lumber department. Just ask the help there to point them out.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 1:11PM
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When my flimsey storebought wire cages collapsed under such tremendous bounty, I did the smart thing and built the cheap, easy, super-strong trellises detailed in Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Garden website and book:

Electrical conduit is simply a metal pipe roughly 3/4 inch in diameter that is cheap at 25 cents per foot.

You get two lengths about 8 foot, and one length about 4 foot, and two screw-on conduit elbows. Or else if you have a conduit bender and don't need to take it apart for easy storage, just bend conduit into a 4'X8' rectangle.

Then you get two lengths of rebar (also cheap) about 2 to 3 feet long, and drive into the ground where you want your trellis, with either a hammer, or as in my case, just pushing with your hand (I have very soft, deep soil) until it's halfway buried.

Then slide the open legs of your conduit onto the rebar, to hold it upright.

Then get nylon netting from the garden dept. or a nursery, that has 7 inch square holes. These are easy to reach through. Then it's a matter of cutting it to fit your frame, and tying it on by each pair of cut netting holes. Use a square knot, not a granny knot, so it won't slip, and stretch netting as tight as you can so it will hold weight without sagging.

Done! This netting will not rot, and will hold any amount of weight... if you use steel fence posts and have firm enough ground, you can even grow pumpkins or melons up that trellis and the netting will support them, and the pumpkin vine will grow stronger to hold the fruit unassisted, if you let it.

This method also cuts down on disease because your tomatoes are more open to the air and light, than they are when you use cages. Just be sure to weave the flexible growing tip of the tomato plant in and out of the trellis where you want it to grow, because if you let it get mature and then try to train it, it can break.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 9:29AM
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all the suggestions I've read so far don't work for me. I need to do it cheap but need it this year, no time for dumpster diving.
My tomatoes get about 3 feet tall so I'm thinking a bundle of 48" wood lath. Cut a sharp point at one end and hammer well into the dirt.
I used 3/4" pvc as fencing frame for the deer and it worked very well for me. It is very cheap and will last. I'm looking at using the same for a frame for the tomato supports. Instead of individual cages make rows with the pvc then tie stripes of old bed sheets( or twine) to this to hold the plants

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 6:26AM
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