How to Make Your Own Tomato Cage


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Tomato plants are going in the ground, and we all know that they need staking. A wire tomato cage is a frequent solution, but how about making your own.

I have not gone big on having tomato plants in my garden. I guess because it is so easy to get good quality ones at the store; however, heirloom varieties may not be so easy to find. This year sees me planting many of these seedlings, so I needed to find a way to stake them. Having pruned, I obtained several bamboo canes and thin, long tree branches, so I decide to make a rather large cage feature in the bed being used by the tomatoes.
tomato cage

    You probably heard the story of the $400 tomato, or something along those lines. Gardeners going after the perfect tomato crop spending quite a bit of money and effort, calculating how much they spent to produce each tomato. As for me, I am cutting back on the expensive stuff. I want my soil to be healthy with a good amount of nutrients from my compost. I want a mulch made from broken down twigs. That leaves me with the stakes or cages. They are not expensive really, but if I am buying one for each plant, they do add up. I hit upon a simple wall idea, which will create the support system for these vines.
    I took thicker branches or bamboo canes as a main support for the plant. Then I wove branches together (the branches were from an ash tree), much like you would when creating a wattle wall. Those are the old style walls that use branches in something that looks like a basket weave. In my case, I left large openings, so there is no tight fitting weave of branches. I did weave the branches in and out from the upright canes. Where the weaving branch met a cane, I used a small length of wire to tie the two branches together. I created three rows in this way. The plants were placed by canes of the inner row, with a few going on the outer row. Basil was planted along the edge.
    I like this project because: I saved money; I did not throw out branches onto the curb; and the set up looks nice. If you only have one or tow plants, you can create the cylinder style cage around the tomato. Place a cane at each corner, and weave the branches around these poles. Bind each contact point with a wire to twist tie, or you could use the plastic cable binder for electrical wires. I have found that crepe myrtle branches bend quite well for this project.
    I did not go heavy on fertilizers last year. From a few plants, I obtained a decent harvest. One problem was birds. I built a super-structure over these walls (a larger frame made from scrap wood). I will be placing the bird netting over this frame. I feed the birds enough; they do not need to go after my vegetables and fruits. You know those upside down tomato plants? Of the five people that I know who tried that out, one produced good, bountiful results. I think you have to obtain the right tomato variety, and you need to treat it right. Considering that you can find tomato plants in the stores for around $1, spending fifteen dollars on plants and making your own cages is not a bad way to go. The compost came from my own pile, so I am good. As I was told recently, plants are simple; we make gardening hard.

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Greetings

This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank

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