A Homemade Recycled Tomato Cage

Use PVC pipe for an easy-to-build, storable and easy watering homemade recycled tomato cage that will last season after season.

| February/March 1997


Effective, inexpensive, and easy-to-make and store, tomato cages don't get better than this.


Build a homemade recycled tomato cage from PVC pipes to last season after season. 

It was the best of the times. It was the worst of times. My success fed my failure. My tomato plants were wonderful, huge with lots of fruit — yes, botanically tomatoes are fruit — slowly ripening in the warm summer sun. I was failing because those tiny wire tomato cages I was using kept falling over, stressing and sometimes breaking the stems.

This was the situation by the end of the summer of '93. My tomato patch looked like a modern art sculpture — string, wire, wooden stakes — all intertwined with tomatoes. Anything to hold up those plants until harvest. I had to find something better by next summer, something inexpensive, lasting, easy to store and strong enough to hold my plants. As I thought about it, the scrounger in me took over.

Homemade Recycled Tomato Cage: Materials

Three 3-foot-3-inch (or longer) pieces of white PVC pipe or cut a 10-foot piece into three equal pieces.

A total of 15 feet of electrical conduit, cut into six 20-inch pieces.

Note: The dimensions can vary. If you're scrounging, any size will work.

6/7/2015 12:00:09 AM

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dave schemmel
4/15/2013 3:42:58 PM

This is a great idea for gardening, although I do agree with ronf2 that a doomsday mentality is damaging overall. I run a website for tomato cage products, please feel free to let me know what you think.

10/20/2010 5:23:29 PM

There is danger in every aspect of our lives. While ignoring our genetic food, drinking water, teflon, come on! We are looking at a good idea for the garden. It must suck to view everything though the eyes of a doomsday mentallity.

m fowler
10/14/2010 11:10:37 AM

Great idea! Now, I'll be able to keep the tomato up longer. Typically, they're destroyed during our hurricane season. This cage would be much more substantial. Thanks!

9/8/2010 10:58:41 AM

This sounds great. I am going to give it a try for sure... will use a CPVC pipe if I can, since all the plumbing in my house is of this and I haven't died of horrid disease yet for those of you who don't care for the PVC cautions mentioned. I am guessing 2 or 2.5" uprights will be more than adequate for .5" cross pieces. Thanks for the great idea!

william tubbs_1
7/9/2010 10:01:33 PM

I just read the article on how to construct the Indestructible Tomato Cage by Joel Papadics. I would like to try this, but the article did not say what pipe diameter to use or if you needed schedule 40 or some other type of pipe. From the article it appears you need 1/2 inch conduit pipe, but what size PVC pipe is needed? Thanks for the good article.

oracle bob
2/5/2009 6:03:08 PM

The comment is now old, but none of the URLs listed by "coevicman" lead to relevant content. I did some searching and found plenty of data for and against the alleged health risks of PVC (more specifically - the phthalate plasticizers used to make PVC). This I know... when I water my garden - 100% of the water is delivered through PVC pipes (PVC is by far the most common material used for sprinkler systems). Seems like the propaganda of fear being spoken here is possible, but not likely.

7/7/2008 7:11:39 PM

Yes, thank you coevicman for mentioning how unsafe PVC pipe is for use with anything to do with food and water. I can't believe a publication such as Mother Earth News put this article out as good advice! The design idea is not bad, but I plan on trying it with some cuttings from my neighbor's bamboo grove.

heidi hunt_2
7/20/2007 9:12:36 AM

The illustrations are in the Image Gallery to the top right of the article, under "Related."

7/19/2007 7:33:38 AM

Where are the figures this guy is relating to in the article? Pics would be nice, especially when they are mentioned and not there. Article was good, but without the pics? Worthless.

4/17/2007 6:49:04 PM

Natural materials such as timber (untreated) and metal have been in our use for thousands of years. Plastics (petrochemical based) are new to all life on Earth. PVC conduits are to be used in walls, as it contains estrogen mimicking compounds that leach out. This PVC and UV stabilized PVC should not be near food or water. Check all the literature out there: www.ourstolenfuture.org www.environmentaloncology.org/publication/estrogen.htm www.who.int/ipcs/publications/new issues/endrocrinedisruptors/en/ http://ec.europa.en/environment/endocrine/index I would have thought knowledge about Phthalate plasticizers etc. would be general knowledge by now... Please check and check again before doing anything in your organic food production.

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