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.

9/30/2010 2:38:18 PM

6" concrete wire are the best. Cut off roll at 8 squares,using bolt cutters cut next to vertical wire so as to have seven closed squares and a row of wires sticking out. Make a tool by drilling a 1/4" hole one inch deep in the end of a rod or very hard wood. (I once made one out of a broken cast iron pan handle) Place the tool over the end of the wire and bend towards in inside of the curve in the wire.Now place horizontally on the ground and make a circle by hooking the bends you made over the other vertical wire. You should now have a cylinder about 18" in diameter. To finish the cage cut off the bottom circle of wire leaving seven 6" wires to push into the ground.I have never had one blow over and i have 120 made over the last 31 years. when the rods rust off just cut another ring off. concrete wire is low carbon steel so as not to rust quickly. best cages by far. 30 years of service and still going, 0

9/11/2010 5:25:47 PM

Hi, I would like to find out how to kill blight on my tomatoes? I've have blight last year and too with this year.

lee mccubbin
9/10/2010 5:38:14 PM

Over the years I have acquired many sizes of round metal cages and made some from garden fence. I always seemed to have to prop things up and hold them up with electric fence posts or T posts until a couple of years ago. I started out with clay tile in the spring when I planted them. As they grew above the tiles I began to add the wire cages. I found that I had some that were 3 ring and some 4 ring. I used the 3 ring high for the standard plants and put the 4 ring high cages on the hybrids. I had several 3 ring high cages that were significantly larger in diameter and made of much heavier wire. I placed the heavier cages around the outside of the other cages and then just kept working the plants upward as they grew. When they began to fruit and get heavy (and the winds blew) I had to use the fence style cages around a couple but found that they worked much better just sat between all the other ones and kept things from falling in to each other anyway. Never used a single post for support. I place all the 3 ring high ones inside each other to store and the same with the 4 ring high and the heavier ones. I only have 3 stacks and they all fit nicely in my garden shed. Note - I do straighten all the prongs so that they stack easily this year and are ready for the ground next year. The fence style cages are placed in the old barge box wagon for the winter. Keeps them out of the way and from blowing away.

heath israel
9/9/2010 12:32:50 PM

I'm not a big PVC fan, but using the PVC pipe as a watering/feeding hole is somewhat brilliant. If you didn't have the cross-beams poking through the PVC pipe, you could just quickly fill the entire pipe up and let it drain slowly over time on its own (No more hanging out for an hour while you trickle-water all you tomato plants:). So, even though I'd normally argue against the PVC, having one PVC pole as the watering tube is a great idea in my opinion.

9/9/2010 8:40:17 AM

I should add that the cattle panels need to be supported by tying them to metal t-posts. 3 per panel is sufficient.

9/9/2010 8:37:30 AM

I use cattle panels. They are 16'X4' heavy wire mesh panels sold at farm stores. For a 4' wide bed I run one panel down the middle of the bed, plant tomatoes on either side of it, and then run panels down the edges of the beds to contain them. The plants need some additional support when they're small; I use regular tomato cages because I have them. The cages can be tied to the panels to prevent falling over sideways, but that usually is not necessary. Put a few wooden slats or tie some string across the ends for lateral containment of the terminal plants. Note that cattle panels are better than goat or hog panels only because they have bigger openings, which makes plant care and harvest easier. If the opening size varies put the larger openings toward the ground.

9/8/2010 6:15:21 PM

I made upsidedown "u" shaped trellises according to instructions from the square foot garden book and website. Iy's made of conduit. A nylon large square mesh is tied on to it. The ends go into the ground about a foot and the U is about 4 feet across and I think about 6 feet tall. I can plant 4 tomatoes in that space and as they grow I twine them into the mesh and pinch off suckers. It is a good space saving way to grow tomatoes. They have lasted quite a few years. I replaced the string mesh once.

art behne
9/8/2010 2:25:34 PM

The very best tomato cages are made from 6" comcrete re-inforcing wire. Up to 8 ' tall ( you can cut them in half for smaller varities ) Electric weld the cages together to make 24' diameter.Drop or increase the size 6" and the cages fit inside each other for storage. They last for many years.Be surt to anchor to the ground when in use ! Be creative,If they are electric or gas welded they slide in and out very easily.

randy bowman
9/3/2010 5:19:47 AM

I am in the process of drying the stalks from this years sunflower crop. I intend on creating an organic trellis from them for next year.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!