Homemade Cages for Tomatoes
Tomatoes are among the most popular plants with home gardeners. They are easy to grow and they produce tasty fruit many people love to eat. There are many different ways to grow tomatoes, and every gardener has a different system. Most people use some kind of a trellis for tomatoes to climb up. This is a nice and effective way to grow your tomatoes. Another, simple way, is to use stakes to grow tomatoes.
However, trellises and stakes are not the only systems you can use. Some gardeners choose special cages for tomato growing. This is a very effective method and it makes tomatoes thrive. The best thing is that you can make such a cage system all on your own.
These cages are actually a combination of stakes and trellises. A great advantage to this system is that it’s very inexpensive and anyone can build it. It can work for both tomatoes and peppers. It is a great way to give your plants all the proper support they need. You won’t have to buy expensive cages – all you need are some inexpensive materials and a bit of your time.
Advantages of Homemade Cages
These types of tomato cages are great because they really make tomatoes thrive. They are easy to make, inexpensive (no more wasted money on commercial cages), and they truly make your tomatoes grow strong and healthy.
Another advantage to these structures is that they combine the two best methods of tomato growing: the ease of trellis structure and the strength of wooden stakes. This method also eliminates the weaknesses of other methods. For example, stakes are strong but it’s difficult to tie vines to them, especially when the plants grow taller. Trellises, on the other hand, provide a good support for the vine, but they are difficult to pick through as the plants grow. The combination of these techniques brings all the advantages while it overcomes the downsides of other methods.
Also, the good news is that you can use materials you have. Chances are that you won’t have to buy much, if any. Welded wire fencing works best for this type of cages, so if you have it, it’s a great material. You may also use something similar. You can use wire cutters to cut the fencing into smaller grid patterns that will serve as tomato cages.
The next thing you need are wooden stakes. You can make them using many different things. Any type of a wooden stake will do.
The construction is very basic and easy to make. All you need to make this type of a cage is to attach a 4′ long wooden stake to an open-faced wire mesh grid. It will keep the wire grid flat so it won’t close into a full cage. It means that you can tie your tomatoes to the grid easily, and when it comes the time to harvest, it will be a breeze because you won’t have to reach through the cage to get the fruit. The fruit will be in front of you, so harvesting is made easy.
Chances are that you will find some of the materials needed in the house. In case you need to buy them all, fear not: they are very cheap. You can make one whole cage for about $2 a piece, which is more affordable than any trellis or a commercial cage.
To make a tomato cage, you will need the following tools and materials:
- 30? High Welded Wire Galvanized Fence with 2? x 4? Mesh Grid
- 2×2 Lumber (to make stakes)
- Fencing Nails (also known as “U-Nails”)
- Wire Cutters
- A Chop Saw or a Jig Saw
- A Hammer
If you don’t have fence wire you can buy a 25′ roll. It will be enough to make 16 cages. If you want to make smaller cages for other vegetables (peppers, for example), you can make about 25 of those smaller cages with this one roll of fence wire.
How to Make the Cages
The first step is to make your wooden stakes. The easiest way is to buy 2×2 lumber. You can get them in standard 8′ pieces you can easily cut in half. This way, you will get two 4′ stakes from each board.
It’s best to use natural, untreated lumber. Remember that you’ll be using these stakes in your garden and around your plants. You don’t want any toxins getting in the ground. While untreated wood will last shorter than the treated one, it will last for good 5 years. After that, you can simply replace them with new stakes and keep the rest of the cages.
The next step is to make a sharp point on the stake. Use a chop saw or a jig saw to simply cut the angled points on one side. It’s important to make a sharp point so it can easily drive into the ground deep enough to be stable.
Once you have your stakes, you should simply cut the wired fence into pieces using wire cutters. Cut 18″ wide sections for tomatoes and 12″ sections for smaller cages (for example, for peppers).
Position the wire about 16″ from the bottom of the stake. This should allow the stake to be driven into the ground to that depth. After this, secure the wire to the stake using fencing nails. You will need about 3 nails per one cage.
After this, your cage is ready and you can install it in your garden. It’s a great way to grow tomatoes, peppers and other similar vegetables.