There are several methods for supporting tomato plants as they grow. Heavy pruning, training plants along a flat trellis, using a “lower and lean” system, or the Florida weave are all methods prescribed by some gardeners.
A basic tomato cage is one of the most traditional and straightforward ways to support a tomato plant. However, if you’ve ever looked for a tomato cage, you’re already aware of the difficulty.
Many pre-made tomato cages are simply too small or flimsy, and the large sturdy ones are prohibitively expensive. Here’s a solution: make your own tomato cage from scratch!
Curl Remesh into a Cylinder
Curl remesh into a cylinder and secure it to make a homemade tomato cage! Lay the remesh on a flat surface, pick up one of the shorter ends, and walk it back over itself until the two short ends meet. A good pair of gloves and a partner may also come in handy here.
You could secure the cage flush end-to-end, but this will result in a fairly wide tomato cage (approximately 27 inches in diameter from a 7-foot panel).
While we did it this way, it may be a little too big for your garden space and intended plant spacing.
It also forms a relatively “loose” cage around the smaller tomato varieties. As a result, before securing it into a slightly smaller cylinder, we frequently overlap at least one row of grid squares from each end (sometimes two rows).
By overlapping two rows of squares, you can make a 22-inch-diameter tomato cage. A 24-25 inch diameter cage is created by one square overlap.
Read also: How To Make Tomatoes Cages From Wood
Secure the Cylinder
Next, use galvanised wire (cut into small 2″ to 3″ pieces) or zip ties to connect one end of the panel to the other, forming a cylinder.
We add a wire tie at the top, bottom, and several more evenly spaced throughout the middle area.
If desired, you can gently push down on the cylinder while it is still lying on the ground to bend it into a more even circular shape. At first, it will most likely be slightly oval in shape.
Note: If you think you’ll want to undo the cages at the end of the season so they can lay flat for storage, consider using reusable garden wire to keep them together.
Install the Tomato Cage
In the garden, place your homemade tomato cage over one tomato plant. It is easiest to install the cage when the tomato plant is still young.
As much as possible, centre the tomato within the cage. Follow tomato plant spacing recommendations, which are typically 24 to 36 inches between plants.
Put two strong stakes on opposite sides of the cage
I like to align the stake with one of the vertical runs of wire, which gives me plenty of places to connect the cage to the stake.
It also looks nice and streamline. Make sure the stakes are at least a foot into the ground and feel secure.
Depending on your plant spacing and cage size, your tomato cages may be able to touch and share a stake in between.
Connect the stakes to the tomato cage in a couple of places
We like to wrap a strong reusable garden wire around the remesh wire a few times. You could also connect the stakes to the tomato cage with regular wire, garden velcro, or zip ties.
Finally, if the tomato plant doesn’t already have one, insert a stake along the main stalk.
Read also: How To Prune Indeterminate Tomatoes
Why use a tomato cage
Tomato plants will always require assistance. Their tall and relatively flexible stems cannot stand on their own, especially when loaded with fruit!
Tomato plants will succumb to their own lankyness and weight if not staked and supported by a tomato cage or trellis.
Unsupported tomato plants will sprawl out over the ground in the best-case scenario.
Read also: How To Grow Indeterminate Tomatoes
This is a total mess to keep up with, and it also means that most of the fruit will be laying on the ground, making them vulnerable to pests, disease, and rotting.
Without adequate support, the main plant stalk or branches will break in the worst-case scenario.
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