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I hate tomato cages.

Posted by anney (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 28, 06 at 20:48

Has anyone experimented with a way to support tomatoes some other way than with cages? I hate them. They fall over in a high wind or from the weight of the plant/fruit or lean to one side and sometimes you can't reach the ripe tomatoes!

All I can visualize is some sort of horizontal support frame about a foot high covered with screen surrounding the plant, at least part-way. The plant would have to sprawl to one side, taking a lot of space in a garden, but they do anyway without cages. The benefit would be to keep the plants and fruits off the ground.

Has anyone tried anything similar or very different that isn't a cage?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I think just about every method has been tried to control the tomato plant and I think I have tried them all, but the one I find that takes the least room and expense and the least work is to take an 8 foot piece of rebar drive it into the ground and plant the tomato next to it, then as it grows up use tie wires and tie it to the rebar every foot or so,


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

  • Posted by vrie 3/4 MT (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 2, 06 at 20:27

I second that- the hatred of cages anyway. I live in WIND country.

I am experimenting myself. I used 4-6ft dowels in the ground and garden velcro to tie the big ones up. In rows I put a line of chickenwire up with dowels and/or poles that I velcroed the maters to. In pots I use the dowels and velcro again. The dowels and chicken wire are cheap too!


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 5, 06 at 14:33

dangsr & vrie

So it seems to be staking or trellising. I appreciate your response, but I'll swear that a vision keeps coming into mind of a "tall tomato hill", as tall as tomato vines are long, with the vines headed downhill as the plant grows. Of course that doesn't solve the problem caused by the plant coming in contact with the earth, but it DOES solve the problem of trying to get them "guided" vertically where they don't want to go as we do with cages.

The very thought of cages has led me to plan to plant some of my tomatoes upside down this year. If that works, if they're productive and delicious, I'll probably grow them all like that afterward. I have a high deck over a downward slope -- I can suspend the tomato plants over the edge and reach them for fertilization and watering. Might have to get a ladder to reach the tomatoes though.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Quote:
I hate tomato cages.

So do I. Rebar is handy stuff to have around. Dangsr's suggestion reads well. In some soils and with some tomatoes 8 foot is a bit much but you have to decide that in your place and time.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I use both rebar and tomato cages. The cage contains the plant with minimal tying and the rebar holds up everything (plant and cage). Sounds excessive, but it works.

The rebar is driven near the trunk of the plant and goes threw the middle of the cage. As the cage starts tipping due to the excessive weight of the plant, the rebar will prevent the cage from falling completely over. It's the best setup I've found. Hope this helps.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I trellis my tomatos and every thing that will vine in the squash family (cukes, watermelon, cantelopes, lufa, chayote, et cetera.) BUT.... I had a small pick up with a cap. It got dented up a bit and I took it off. I was going to throw it out but when I set it out the trash people wouldn't take it, and the recycle people wouldn't take it. Too big. I then stared to take the aluminium skin off when it crossed my mine I had a light but sturdy aluminium frame there that I could stand upright and cover with wire (or lay down in the winter and cover with plastic.) I am now growing watermelons on my cap frame.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 12, 06 at 11:32

zorba

Isn't a truck cab closed on three sides? I'm having trouble visualizing what you did!

Anyway, thanks for suggestions. I'll keep thinking about it, too, as there's some time before my tomatoes get set out and must be supported in some way.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I love my cages!!!!
I bought a roll of galvanized fence and made my own. They are 5' tall and 2' in diameter. I have 16 cages and I use 2 pieces of conduit per cage driven in the ground to keep the cages from blowing over. Wire ties are used to fasten the cages to the conduit. It takes me about 2 hours to get the cages and the conduit out of the basement where they are stored and to the garden and set up. After that is done I don't have to do anything but water and pick tomatoes. Total cost was about 80 dollars and I have been using them for 7 or 8 years now. I have tried other methods but this one works best for me.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Have you tried the upside down method. No tomato cages
needed. I'm trying it this year using an old clothline
pole to hang them on, also I put chicken wire loosely
up the pole to grow cucumber vines on. I may put bell
peppers in the top end of bucket.

http://oldfashionedliving.com/tomato2.html

Happy Gardening,
Gemfire


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I LOVE tomato cages...but with a twist. I use mine "upside down"...always have...wide base down. I clip the "unhooped" wires intended to be stuck into the ground, bend them into landscape staples, use two per cage and voila: a stable cage that supports large, tomato-laden plants in the most ferocious winds. I use the extra "staple" obtained from each cage to secure a soaker hose snaking through the tomato patch. The original "inverted-cone" design of these cages never made sense to me as they seemed top-heavy in wind and loose soil. This system has worked well for many years for me. Good luck!


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Well gardening friends now we have read all your ideas in staking toms. So by now you should have tried something, as I did with with the cages this year, but next year I go back to the 8 foot rebar, drive over a foot into the ground and plant next to it and tie up with plastic tape. It has worked good for me for many years so Ill go back to it next year.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

  • Posted by vgkg 7-Va Tidewater (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 23, 06 at 12:21

A Rebar user here too but I use 10' lengths @ 1/2" thick. These are driven 2' into the ground for support which leaves 8" above for tieing. 3/8" thick rebar won't work as it'll bend over with late season tomatoes near the top. The so-called tomato cages that one finds at Lowes or HD are good only for supporting pepper plants.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

There are many suggestions for supporting tomatoes (and discussions as to whether you should) on the tomato forum.

Personally, I prefer to just let my tomatoes ramble. This seems to be their natural state; they cover the ground to preserve moisture, and bear heavily. There are problems some years with mice or rabbit damage (particularly on the larger tomatoes) but putting out traps under the plants usually solves the problem.

Planting them at the edge of the garden, or next to pole beans or corn, works well for me. The smaller determinate varieties (especially the paste types) can be planted more closely in wide rows, I use 2-foot spacing each way.

But some tomatoes require support: those that are prone to rot; the larger varieties that mature slowly; and those grown in areas with severe slug, cricket, or rodent infestations. And some varieties just seem to scream out "eat me", and there is always some pest willing to do so. (LOL)

For these situations, I do like cages; but not the poorly-engineered cages sold in garden stores. I use 6"-square construction remesh in 8-foot lengths, rolled into a cylinder. This makes a cage about 2.5 feet wide, and 4-5 feet high, depending upon the width purchased. I tie them to t-bar posts, but if your location is sheltered, you can also cut the bottom wire off (bolt cutters work best for this), leaving a ring of 6" wires to stick into the ground.

For paste tomatoes & small determinates, try growing them on a _horizontal_ trellis. Using 5-foot wide remesh, bend 18" of each side at a 90-degree angle. This is not as difficult as it sounds, just clamp the remesh between two boards on each side & bend, or hammer over an edge with a small sledge. Then cut the bottom wire off on both sides, leaving rows of 6" stakes.

The resultant support (once driven into the ground) will be 12" high & about 2 feet wide, and as long as the original remesh length. If you use 3-foot rows, this gives you 12" between trellises. Center the trellis over the row of tomatoes. They will grow up through it, them lay down over the top, keeping the tomatoes off the ground.

If you want a wider trellis, make shorter lengths as "legs" and tie wider remesh (or fencing) across the top. Or only bend 12" on each side, and omit the cuts; this will increase the width to 3 feet. Use stakes to hold in place if exposed to wind.

The remesh is better for both methods than fencing because of its strength, and because the larger openings make weeding & harvesting easy. It is also very economical if purchased in large rolls... but you will need a bolt cutter or fence pliers to cut it.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

We're always trying out (hopefully) attractive ways to support tomatoes in the back of our flower garden. My favorite was when we tied small saplings into pyramids - very rustic, but you need to have a supply of saplings.

This year my husband made tall "cages" out of scrap lumber. (See photo links below). These took a few hours to make, but we should be able to fold them up and reuse them for a couple of years.

Under construction: http://janetvmoyer.shutterfly.com/action/slideshow?a=67b0de21b338dda3e489&auto=0&idx=19&m=1&d=1152810008523

Installed: http://janetvmoyer.shutterfly.com/action/slideshow?a=67b0de21b338dda3e489&auto=0&idx=19&m=1&d=1152810008523

Here is a link that might be useful: Home made trellises


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Mum had 6' hogwire fences installed in her garden (Ruth Stout method, so no tilling) to alternate with tomatoes one year and pole beans the next; this did require tying the stems to the fencing. I think hogwire is now called horsewire fencing. Kid bro grows maters inside 8' tall, 3'-wide cylinders he made from "concrete driveway support mesh" -which looks like hogwire to me! but the 5" gaps are perfectly sized to reach through. I use 12' bamboo poles set 18" deep, 4-square around each plant and tie on twine for the horizontal strands -- because I keep forgetting to order the hogwire for cylinders. DH uses large, heavy cages wire-tied to metal fenceposts, and by August 1st is snitching my bamboo poles because his tomatoes usually grow to 10+' tall, way over the cage tops.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

A column in todays (Sunday, 6th) New York Times online (Nytimes.com) spoke of tomatoes in "page-wire". Is there such a thing as 'page-wire' or do you think it is a misprint for 'cage-wire'?


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

  • Posted by
    plant.babies Zone 8-9 .... maybe
    (gw:plant.babies) on
    Mon, Aug 14, 06 at 14:28

I grow tomatoes next to the chain-link fence in our garden, and simply tie the main stalk to the fence. I can reach miniature tomatoes from either side.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I use a 'calf panel' bought at a farm supply store. It's a 4' tall by 16' long heavy duty galvinized wire panel. Mine cost $15. the panel is supported by two metal fence posts. Just plant along the bottem of the panel and weave the stems up through the openings. The plants hold themselves up. It is very sturdy (the panels are built to hold in frisky calves). I have used this setup for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pole beans, anythings that can grow on a trellis


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I use the regular wire cages at first, but as soon as the plants start growing over the top, I drive stakes and "florida weave" the rest of the plant. I've been doing this for about three years now and it works great. Baling twine works the best for string, I used some of the cheap stuff from the dollar store last year but it doesn't hold up all season. The weave works well also without the cages, but it seems to work even better with the cages, and besides I like the cages around the plants when they are little because you can stick a paper bag over them for frost protection just in case of those sneaky late frosts.

Here is a link that might be useful: florida weave instructions


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

For more good ideas, check out this other posting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Forum on Tomato Supports


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I'm going to try enclosing my row of tomatoes on 2 sides with the braided nylon vegetable trellis netting tied to rebar on each end. A friend of mine has an uncle who does this. It looked like it worked very well and then you don't have to deal with bulky and ugly concrete wire tubes during the winter. Just take them down lay the rebar in a corner and wad the netting into a ball and store in a small bag. a 30'x5' length of it wads up into a ball about the size of a baseball.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Has anyone experimented with a way to support tomatoes some other way than with cages? I hate them. They fall over in a high wind or from the weight of the plant/fruit or lean to one side and sometimes you can't reach the ripe tomatoes!

All I can visualize is some sort of horizontal support frame about a foot high covered with screen surrounding the plant, at least part-way. The plant would have to sprawl to one side, taking a lot of space in a garden, but they do anyway without cages. The benefit would be to keep the plants and fruits off the ground.

Has anyone tried anything similar or very different that isn't a cage?

I purchased something at a local hardware chain last year that fits your description that looked promising. It was like a three legged table, but the top was round, with metal in a lattice pattern (#). The legs removed for easy storage. When my plant was tall enough, I stuck it in the ground over the plant and guided the plant through the top and pruned any lower branches. Let the plant grow as needed.

How did it work? Terrible. The branches from the plant that grew above the "table top" simply flopped over the edges and onto the ground. When high wind came it knocked the plant over, even though the table was still firmly in the ground. The plant just kinda flopped to the side.

Tried two of them with 4 different plants. Same results every time.

May I recommend the Florida weave?

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Weave


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

so i was watching Victory Garden the other day and this Gardening school treated the tomatoes like grapes. I don't really know how big but it looked like four feet above ground and more likely a foot below ground. They ran twine or string down the center of the stakes.I don't know thw spacing but i'm guessing a foot and then they planted the Toms between the stakes. They let the tomatoes grow up tieing them and when the toms got to the top of the stakes and then pinched of the tops to keep the high in check. I was going to try this but instead of twine/string use something a little bit strong.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Great ideas.

All in all FLORIDA WEAVE is the most flexible and economical.
It is flexible , because fits your spacing, tomato size and layout.
It is economical, because a ball of twin will do and you can even make your own stakes, from wood(tree branches), steel bar..etc.
It is also easy to install and uninstall.
with FLORIDA WEAV you can do irregular shapes, zig-zags, polygons,...
I am going to do it this way:
for weaving use stronger double-stakes or posts.
(imagine a triagular weave of about 10-12 inhes wide, interwoven, making smaller triangle or squares, looking from top)
for each tomato plant use a bamboo stake(or tree branch) to tie down the mains. This way, the weave will suppot the tomato shoots and branches. You can further weave the weave, if and when needed more support.
this system can also be used for cucumbers, squash and beans. I do not like the idea of "CAGE", "WIRE MESH" , they
connate prisons to me(LOL). a garden should look as natural as FREE as possible. To me, It is not just for eating with your mouth but also enjoying with youe eyes.

happy gardening.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I use both cages and stakes. When the plants are small
I use the cages. When they outgrow the cages I use
1"X 2" X 8' stakes. I use a step ladder so I can drive
them in the ground with a hammer. Then I tie them up
using strips from an old sheet. I can put a lot of
plants in a small space this way. and I have good
results. I plant a variety of plants.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

So many interesting ideas...in Germany it is very common to cut the bottom out of a large planting pot (8-12") diameter. This is mostly buried leaving about 2" inches vertically exposed, thus creating a resovoir to hold water when irrigating. Plants are planted in the middle of the pot next to a spiral shaped piece of metal (similiar to rebar - but made out of stainless steel). No need to tie the plants to a piece of metal, just weave them through the bends of the spiral as the plant grows.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I have been re-thinking tomato cages. My thought is as before I was using "pig" fence and cutting them into long sections to make Japanese tomato rings. Which work great for those that way. A good way to keep your plants watered for longer periods of time. Watering is done from the top which is full of manure, soil, compost, leaves, grass, etc filled in layers, which provides food to the roots of all the plants around this ring. Plus you can plant herbs, etc on the top of this ring. You can use grass or leaves around the edges to hold in the soil.
But for use just as a normal tomato cage, my thoughts were to cut the fence in equal lengthes bending the end with the wires exposed around the solid end of the next section and creating a 4 sided tomato cage. The bottom wire needs to be cut off a allow the cage to be pushed into the gournd at least to the second wire giving support on all sides. The first time I tried this I had a neigbor who gave me his fencing material so there was only labor involved at no cost to me. I can't remember the cost of pig fence but one thing I do know if you are planting very many plants needing support this is a much cheaper way to go and they don't just cave with weight or wind. Down our way we start our tomato plants as early as we can because come June we usually can't get anymore tomatoes until if we are lucky in the fall. We also wrap with a commerical heavy weight plastic sheet to protect from the cool nights and the strong spring winds we receive. The advantage of the square cage against the round is you will be able to fold it up and put away come the end of the growning season until the next planting time.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I have been struggling with this issue for years! I'm currently developing the "ultimate" cage/trellis system and would really like some feedback. It is made from PVC and Pex tubing and can be DIY in less than 20 minutes...and it's beautiful! I've put the full instructions online for your amusement. Nothing for sale and I am not a business.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tormato!


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

See link this is how I did them no cages but hard work.( 4x4) 8 ft post , 4 ft cross top post , (1) lag screw 12 inches with large washer, (2) lag screw hooks, Power wrench for 12 inch lag screw, 160 pounds of bagged cement, 12 x 12 wooden mold and dig 19 deep x 12 wide hole. Plants are double the size now and have roon for 4 more hooks . cheers Peter

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato post


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

"sometimes you can't reach the ripe tomatoes!"

Speak for yourself.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

If you're thinking about an "upside down" tomato planter, let me tell you about ours and our experience. They require water almost twice a day as the plant matures. If you water your plant twice a day you tend to wash out important nutrients so it is necessary to add fertilizer and calcium. The tomatoes still tend to get blossom-end rot. Also, we live on the Chesapeake Bay and, even though we anchored the planter down firmly, a storm came up and pulled the steak out of the ground. The planter fell over and one entire plant broke off. This is our second year with this planter and probably the last.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

This is what I use.

I made a lot of these.
They are cheap to make and will last for years.
I have never had one fall over - even with straight 50 mph winds that tore down tree branches.

P8040011

P8040012

P8040018


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I have used large tomato cages for years with great success. The trick is to put a heavy duty "T" post at each end of the row, run a wire across the top of the cages and wire the cages to this top wire with small pieces of wire. They will never fall over again. I have even planted a double row of tomatos at 3' centers and alteranting their position and wired both rows of cages to the same wire. It is always worked. Cages stay standing.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I use 15' long cattle panels, cut them into three sections,
bend over each section kinda like a folder paper, but leave it open enough to plant in the middle. I cut the cross section bars on the lower half to make it have stakes, and pushed them in. I have a large bolt cutter that works easily cutting them. $18 a panel or $6 a cage thats thick Galv steel that will last a long time that stands and holds up tomatoes easily. I use a 1/2" X 4' piece of PVC to stake the cage though they seem to stand OK on their own. The ends are sharp but seem to deter Deer. I will take pics tonight and display them. If you like the idea just remember you got the idea from me (in case you start making them and get rich LOL).


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RE: I hate tomato cages.-Pic of mine

cages


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I am one of those people that let the garden talk to me, when they are ready on an indiviual basis, I stake, run out of cages, use bamboo, run out of bamboo, use old sturdy tree branches, run-out, I go to store and they sell so many alternatives to cages, so you think of where the growth is heading. I don't find the cages most beneficial, but my garden is a sore sight with all the different stakes. Next year I will get a nicer pattern to the staking with a better walk path. Don't hate the things, just improvise with new ideas, I have old speaker stands in the garden and I have even staked off of old garden tools. Let gardening live within you and may God Bless!


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I tried something different this year that is permanent but it will work for different crops next year.

I put four posts in the corners of a 6x4 raised bed. I then put 4 eye screws on each post then wove wire through them surrounding the bed with wire. I then took pieces of wire and made cross pieces wide and long so that I had a cage built around each plant.

The downside night be when I have to remove the old plants this fall. I expect I will hate the part but I will figure it out.

This is one tomato cage system that will not blow away.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Need some help, i have cages on my tomato but very ambushes plants they have over grown there cages by 3-4 ft and I'm have problems keeping them from falling over , Tried to make some 6 ft cages but now that there so big there really hard to get the new cages around them So any ideas of a way to support them that can handle hight of 6-10ft. It a mess and any help would be greatly appreciated

Sterling


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I see by dates on these postings, I'm a little late on this subject, but has any one ever tried using their cages upside down? I did one this season and it worked great. Another plus with this method is early on they can be wrapped with saran wrap to protect against frost. Thus one could plant tomatos in two batches, early May and early June.(I'm in northorn Ohio) Any replies would be appreciated.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

It seems this topic is permanent indeed.
I have to clear small trees and brush all the time and I make them into old-fashioned makeshift stakes. Ugly but works. They are not really reusable but I always have more sticks to use next year.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Lots of different solutions....I too have had my share of trial and error and have come up with a solution that works great for me. I bought a roll of 6' tall concrete reinforcing wire from the hardware store and cut it into pieces, forming circular columns. I cut off the bottom row of wire so I could insert into the earth and add a rod on each end. I tie them all together and have yet to have a wind take them anywhere. I don't prune until end of July when they start to grow out the top (supposed to help the fruit size up) The spacing is 6" x6" so it is easy to access the fruit or get in and prune if need be.
In spring I wrap with plastic for extra heat boost and usually remove end of June.
Here is pic in late spring, when the weather was really cold.
Photobucket
These tomato cages have been in use for over 10 years now.
The ones meant for tomatoes I use for green peppers....works much better.
Flora


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

What I have done for years is I grow my tomatoes in tires. I grow about 200 plants a season. I plant two plants per tire. Each tire has three four foot lengths of re-bar sharpened at one end driven through the tire and into the ground about eight inches, each rod has two washers welded to it, one on top and one half way up. I simply run some 9 gauge wire through the washers to complete the cadge.

Each year I simply remove some of the soil and replace it with fresh compost and manure, The tires are permanent in rows and in spring I simply wrap the re-bar with clear plastic which makes for a great little greenhouse as the black tires really soak up the heat and transfer it to the ground and the young tomatoes This way I can plant very early in spring . Here in Manitoba Canada we need to use every trick in the book.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

From flora2b; a roll of 6' tall concrete reinforcing wire [or so called pig fence] from the hardware store and cut it into pieces, forming circular columns. I cut off the bottom row of wire so I could insert into the earth and add a rod on each end. I tie them all together and have yet to have a wind take them anywhere. I don't prune until end of July when they start to grow out the top (supposed to help the fruit size up) The spacing is 6" x6" so it is easy to access the fruit or get in and prune if need be.
In spring I wrap with plastic for extra heat boost and usually remove end of June.
From Wally; I cut the wire so that the ends can be formed as a hook to the other end so they can be laid out flat at the end of the season to store without using up too much space.
There were a few years back, one they called "Japanese tomato ring." This was a permanent structure. It was filled with soil, manure, compost, etc. At the top a bath type or depression was made in the soil which would be planted with herbs, etc. All watering is done thru the top and all tomato plants were planted around this structure. By this process the tomato plants would receive food and water on a regular basis. This would require each cage wires to be cut about 12 feet long and anchored with steel fence posts. It also would not allow for the added protection of the plastic wrap unless you ran extra steel fence posts outside this area as to be able to wrap the plastic.

If you use the concrete reinforcing wire which will not give when or bend well you could cut it into 4 even sections with each hooked together with the wire from one end to the other allowing the structure being folded away at the end of each season for easy storage.


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

I found the vertical gardening section a couple of years ago and saw the wonderful pictures of using cattle panels for a lot of vining plants. I have raised beds, so I put the cattle panel ancored with four foot t-posts (2 on each side) and made an arch from one raised bed to another raised bed. I was able to keep the tomatoes and leaves off the ground, as we have slugs. When it came time for fall and frost I was able to cover my arches wil plastic sheets. I was still pulling tomatoes off in November. I have also used the cattle panels for cucumbers, beans, and pumpkins (which I use panty hose to support the pumpkins). Good Luck


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RE: I hate tomato cages.

Hi everyone that hates tomato cages. I found an incredible new type of tomato cage that is completely different than the traditional wire types. I included a link to an article in the Grand Rapids Press. see below.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Cage is the Rage


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