How To Build Sturdy Inexpensive Tomato Cages

paloaltomarkMay 5, 2010

I built 7 foot high tomato cages using mesh mini-panels. This is not a new idea, but if you would like to do the same and need a materials list and instructions, you'll find it at the below link. They cost about 1/3 of the price of good quality cages at the garden center and take about 10 minutes to make each cage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato and Vegetable Gardening Cages

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I don't use cages - I use trellises for tomatoes. I think it works a lot better & is cheaper. I got the idea from "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible" by Ed Smith.

Materials: You need 2x2's (That's 2 inches by 2 inches, which is of course not quite those dimensions), which I get from the big box hardware store for about $1.50 each, nails, some cheap twine, and some basic tools. Ingredients to make a nontoxic wood preservative for the part that goes into the ground makes them last longer.

End posts: We cut them to 6-7' (used to do 6', decided to make them 7' this year, because when they're pounded in I can reach the top if I stretch). Then hack the bottom end off to make it somewhat pointy.

Top: Take another one, cut to appropriate size for where you need it in the garden. We've made ones about 6' long that haven't sagged. Any longer and I think you might want to put another post in the middle. Add nails to sides & top as described below, nail the top to the sides, and hammer into your garden with a mallet. (Consider how tall you are when making the side posts!)

Twine: In the top piece, put nails at appropriate intervals for the twine for the tomatoes - whatever you've decided is the right spacing. (These can be left in for next year.) Tie twine to the nails. To brace it at the bottom, we put nails in the side posts and tie a line - the twine for the tomatoes is tied to this. For best results, use sticks or leftover wood to make stakes for the bottom as well.

One a week or so, simply flip the main tomato vine around the twine. I find this easy, and it works great. If you want more support, you can add more twines down and flip side branches around those as they grow.

We use the wood preservative recipe in the book, which is a combo of linseed oil and I can't remember what else...sorry. We already had all the ingredients laying around, since we do some wood projects, so that was cheap, too.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 11:48AM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Thanks for the easy trellis recipe, candogal! We do tomatoes in the round in large containers (walnut trees), but I can see using this idea for many other things. Simple easy and cheap!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 11:33PM
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sharbear50(6a Bella Vista)

Candoga, I can't seem to wrap my head around your descriptions. Do you have a picture? I used rabbit wire this year and found I needed to add a lot of string as the tomatoes are way taller than the 4' wire. Luckily I also have a sturdy cattle panel behind them to tie to. Your trellis sounds like a much better idea but I am very visual and need a picture.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 2:21PM
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