Texas Tomato Cage 55 gallon drum trick

californianApril 21, 2011

When assembling two part Texas Tomato Cages often they will try to fold up on you while you are trying to insert the legs of the top part into the bottom part. If you happen to have a 55 gallon drum laying around (all gardeners should have several drums for storing rain water or mixing soluble fertilizer in) use the 55 gallon drum as a form. It is exactly the right size to fit inside a cage and hold it upright while you are trying to connect the sections.

Some other tips:

The quality control on the cages isn't that great and you will have to find the preferred orientation for inserting the top section into the bottom. One way will often line up the legs better than another orientation. In extreme cases you might have to play musical chairs until you find sections that match up without forcing.

Another tip, the only thing keeping the cages from folding up once assembled is the legs being stuck in the dirt. Sometimes as the season progresses the dirt may loosen up and the cage may start to lean or even try to collapse. So bang a long stake or piece of rebar into the ground along one side of the cage to keep it straight.

A third tip, don't wait too long to place the cages over the tomato plants, as sometimes the vines may get too stiff and break when you try to train them inside the cage. And keep up with the training every few days as the vines try to grow out of the cage.

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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

Another tip: Get a helper and they are together in less than 5 seconds and bury the legs deep and you never have to reinforce stake them. I grow monster non pruned plants and I am in a windy area and have never had to stake a Texas cage.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 12:37AM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

not all 55 gallon drums are created equall

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 2:32PM
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homegardenpa

I just stick the bottom half of the cage into the ground as deep as it will go and don't even put the second part on until the plant is tall enough to require me to do so. At that point, the cage is in the ground, doesn't move, and then I just slide the extension on. Goes easy enough.

TIP: I've found that alternating the hinge direction (the direction which they collapse down) between the top and bottom half makes it so that the cage as a whole is much more rigid.

Doing it this way, the cage cannot collapse or lean to one side or the other - no extra reinforcement will be needed. They only fold flat in one direction, so if you alternate the top and bottom haves and slip them together, it can't collapse, period.

I've grown 10 ft. plants loaded with tomatoes in these cages with no extra support... with high winds and lots of rain... never had a problem.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:12PM
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tracydr(9b)

You'd think for the price they'd have perfect quality control!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:48PM
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suncitylinda

I was just thinking the same think Tracy!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:06PM
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