The Best Homemade Tomato Cages

Forget flimsy, store-bought products. Build your own sturdy, low-cost tomato cages with these four terrific designs!


| April/May 2011


You’ll enjoy a bigger tomato harvest if you use stakes or tomato cages to help your plants grow vertically, saving space in the garden while keeping fruits off the ground, preventing rot. Store-bought tomato cages tend to be flimsy and too small. For a sturdier option, consider building your own. We think these four plans are especially good choices for creating durable, low-cost tomato cages. Find the best fit for your garden and start building! (The cost estimates for each design are based on current prices from Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Co.)

Livestock Panel Trellis

Rigid metal livestock panels (sold at farm stores) make a strong, durable trellis. Simply stand up the panels and attach them to steel T-posts, and you’re on your way to your own wall of tomatoes (see illustration). Livestock panels typically come in 16-foot lengths, but with a pair of bolt cutters or a hacksaw, you can cut them to whatever length you want.

As the tomatoes grow, weave the plants between the openings of the panel for better support. You can use the panels for other crops, including beans, cucumbers and peas. You can even bend the panels to make a trellised archway, which you can cover with plastic for use as a cheap greenhouse or livestock shelter.

Supplies: 

  • One 16-foot livestock panel
  • Steel T-posts (use one for about every 4 to 6 feet of panel) 

Estimated cost: about $2 per tomato plant (assumes four T-posts, plus $20 for a 16-foot panel, with 18 tomato plants spaced 2 feet apart on both sides)

Complete instructions: See Vertical Gardening Techniques for Maximum Returns.

kmh
6/17/2015 11:55:34 AM

I have used the concrete mesh for years. Each basket is about 30-36 inches in diameter. The wire is heavy enough to not collapse and the holes are big enough to reach in and pull out the fruit. But even at 5 feet tall, they are still too short and the plants get bunched at the top. For this reason, if I were to do it again, I would create a zig-zag fence out of the same mesh, and plant the tomatoes between the panels, then just continue to run the branches horizontally as necessary. Another option would be to make a bunch of linkable panels out of the mesh; this would allow a much more compact storage during the off-season (but would be less rigid). I also use these for my cucumbers!


geraldc
6/13/2015 7:39:25 AM

260 field wire 48" x 28" diameter cages work great. Been using them for about 30 yrs now. I put 3 legged small cages over plants to start then when big enough apply 48" x 28" diameter cages. This gives me time to fertilize and control weeds, This year only planted 60 Better Boys, 30 Early Girls and 30 Rudgers. T post every 4 or 5 cages with wire thro cage to each post holds plants up very good in high winds. In south Georgia I always plant garden on Good Friday, on 6-13-15 we have had fresh tomatoes,Early Girls, and cucumbers for about 2 weeks now and today will be picking Better Boys. Love my matoe sandwich, one slice cover slice of bread


janet
5/20/2015 10:59:14 PM

I love the wire mesh tomato cages I built! No worries about having them blow over if you remove the wire that is at the bottom of your completed tower. Snip it off with your wire cutters. You are then left with a series of 4" spikes, 4" apart, all around the base of your cage. Set the tower in place, then push the spikes into the ground firmly with your foot.Much more wind proof than the tiny "tomato cages" from your nearby big box store!






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