The Best Tomato Cage

| 9/2/2010 3:50:05 PM

Tags: tomato cages, growing tomatoes,

PVC Tomato CageIt’s getting to feel fall-like, and I’m beginning to think of putting my gardens to bed for the winter. I was sharing this thought with a co-worker who admitted that every fall he has to deal with the tomato cages and rambling vines that have fallen over into a tangled-rope-like mess. It’s just that in the spring, when he’s anxious to get those plants in the ground, it’s so much easier to grab whatever cages are handy rather than spending the time to create sturdy long-lasting tomato cages.

So now is the time to think about what kind of tomato trellis, cages or panels you’d like to use for growing tomatoes next year. The one pictured here is sturdy and easy to make and store.

Do you have a favorite, can’t-be-beat tomato-growing devise? If so, tell us about it in the comments section below.

5/13/2015 4:36:38 PM

I don't particularly care for tomatoes, but my mom loves them, so each year I put in one plant for her. I too, was frustrated by the "cones" sold to support tomatoes: too short, even the large ones, and unstable because of their narrow base. Then one day in the off-season, I saw those cones in a whol new light. I used to grow a couple of different varieties, and stored the cages upside down 'cause they'll stay put that way. "Light bulb going off." I took two cones, placed them bottom to bottom, and interwove the legs of each into the hoops of the other. Voila! Broad sturdy base, and a taller cage to boot! I do have to pin it down (using those u-shaped pins they sell for landscape fabric) but it works like a charm!

9/17/2014 4:31:55 PM

I've tried just about everything growing tomatoes, and my favorite is when I have enough space to just give them a field to grow all over -- BUT this year I've got a second favorite, hands-down. Burpee is selling an 18"x18" SL Pro tomato cage, tall enough on its own to manage ordinary modern hybrids -- 58". And, if like me you grow those maniacal heirlooms that don't know when to quit, there's an extender to give the monsters another 24". And for the fashion conscious, they come in not just the usual 'silver' metal color, but also in powder coated red or green. (Admittedly the powder coating isn't a very sturdy finish, but what the hey, it's tomato cages; it's gardening; enjoy it while it lasts and touch it up mid-winter if you're as nutz as I am.) One additional PLUS for those who use square foot gardening for arranging their vegetable (and fruit, technically) gardens: Place four plants on corners of a 12" square, then put one cage over all four so the corner legs are just outside the seedlings. Leave 6" between cages, which is to say the required foot between plants. The only drawback I've found is the need to walk the tomato rows while the plants are growing UP and tuck the tender new branches gently back inside the cage structure. (If any break off, they root readily in moist soil, so out of the mistake you get an extra plant.) NB I have no interest (financial or other) in Burpee; I am nothing but a customer where the company is concerned, but I do think this Burpee product is worth investing in for the long-haul home-garden tomato grower.

5/2/2014 11:00:10 AM

I have tried and have been disappointed with the outcome of a variety of cages, trellis, and string systems. I was going to try a system of using pig fence, where panels would be floated horizontally above the tomatoes and the plants would simply grow up and through them, but became daunted when I found the panels only came in 16' x 4' lengths and cost about $25 each at a local supplier. It would have been both cost prohibitive and I had no idea how I would transport this material home w/o even more expense. We went to Seed Savers Exchange for a conference two years ago and borrowed the following method for staking tomatoes that sew saw in ine of their display gardens. We bought coated metal posts from a farm store (about $1 each) that had the same appearance and heft as 4', 3/8" round rebar - except it was coated in a vinyl like covering and had a "wing" welded to it on one end for stability in the ground, not unlike a T post. I drove these posts into the ground so that there was one spaced evenly between each tomato planet in a row. As the plants grew I ran courses of sturdy twine or small diameter nylon rope around one side of the tomato plants, post to post - zig zagging the twine so it would be on the left side of the 1st plant, then round the next post to the right side of the next plant and so on down to the end of the row and back again so that each plant was supported on both sides. As the tomatoes grew, I simply added and other course, keeping tension fairly tight on each course. The results were spectacular. No tomatoes were in contact with the ground. The plants were kept fairly well gathered into their rows so the fruit was more visible and easy to pick, and the plants did not overlap so much into the row space, making them more assessable.

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