Besides providing support, these cages also prevent the plants from being knocked over or breaking off. The cages keep the tomatoes off the ground, eliminating the risk of tomato rotting. Tomatoes rot when brought in contact with the soil, and can even get sunburned if not protected by the leaves. Both these issues are taken care of by tomato cages.
Moreover, using tomato cages expedites the spraying for insects across all the vines, and the crop is easier to pick during harvest time. Various types of tomato cages are available at garden centers and home supply stores.
However, the store bought tomato cages are not only over-priced, but are also inefficient. As the tomatoes ripen, the intermediate tomatoes grow taller than the cages and overpower the cages' spindly legs. By building tomato cages at home, one can, not only reduce the cost, but also acquire a good quality and reliable cage to grow the crop.
How to Build Tomato Cages?
Building tomato cages is not a complex task; anybody with a few tools and dexterity can accomplish this task. Tomato cages can be made from various materials, such as, wood, bamboo or metal wires. Plastic tomato cages are also available in the market today. Here are some instructions regarding how to make homemade tomato cages.
How to Make Tomato Cages from Wood?
- 1 x 3 inch wooden strips, 8 feet long (6 strips)
- 2 x 4 inch scrap board piece, 8 inches long
- 3-inch deck screws (2 screws)
- ½- inch galvanized deck screws - 30
Step 1: Cut two of the 8-foot long 1 x 3s, so as to make pairs of rungs for the tomato ladder. The first two rungs are to be cut 21 ½ inches long, the next two are to be cut at 19 ½ inches, and the other two at 17 ½ inches. For the braces, two 20 inch boards are required to be cut out, which will stabilize the sides of the ladder.
Step 2: The next step is to lay out another two of the 8- foot strips for the legs of the ladders. These legs are to be attached on each side of the 8-inch 2 x 4 scrap board piece, at the top of the ladder.
Pilot holes are to be drilled into the wooden legs, which are then to be connected to the wooden board via a 3-inch deck screw, screwed on each side. While drilling the screw in, one must ensure a pivot point is created, so as to spread out the legs of the ladder later on.
Step 3: The longest rungs cut out are to be positioned near the bottom, and by drilling pilot holes at first, the 21 ½ inch board is to be screwed to the legs at 7 inches from the bottom. The same procedure is to be repeated with the 19 ½ inch board at a distance of 12 inches from the first rung.
The 17 ½ inch board is to be positioned 15 inches from the second rung. This positioning formula will enable the base of the stand to be wider than the top, thereby allowing the wooden structure to stand.
Step 4: After turning the ladder, carry out the same procedure on the other side as well. The rungs will slightly extend the braces on each side. Once both the sides are done, allow the legs of the ladder to stand, and spread them out.
Use the screw on the 20-inch 1 x 3 braces on each side of the ladder at 27 inches from the base of the ladder. The wooden tomato cage is ready to be placed over the tomato plant. Two of the wooden tomato cages' legs are to be staked down.
Wood tomato cages fold just like a step ladder, and can be easily stored away neatly. However, one can even opt for heavy gauge, wire-mesh fencing to build your own tomato cage. Tomato cages' metal wire can even be recycled poultry fencing or chicken wire.
For people looking for a cheaper alternative, bamboo tomato cages are a good option. Building tomato cages is advantageous as caged tomatoes are cleaner and of better quality as compared to those growing without adequate support.