Industrial Strength Home Made Tomato Cages

  

The wimpy tomato cages and tomato supports and you get at the garden center are guaranteed to fall over with the first heavy wind after the plants set fruit.  I have tried staking tomatoes but found if you don’t keep it up every few days the plants get away on you and the job gets to be just about impossible.  I usually raise about 15 tomato plants of 8 or 9 varieties and needed something with the convenience of tomato cages, but something a lot more robust than those commercially available.

 

I finally started making my own tomato cages out of concrete reinforcing web.  I got lucky and scrounged a big roll that was left behind by a former tenant when the company I worked for expanded into a new building. You can also buy it at home construction stores.  The roll of reinforcing web I have is 60” tall. The wire is about 1/8” diameter steel. The squares are 6” which are large enough to easily put your hand in for harvesting the tomatoes.

  

CAUTION!

Working with concrete reinforcing web can be dangerous! Wear gloves and safety glasses!

The first step is to unroll the web.  I make the initial piece 10 squares long. Cut the wires so you have 9 complete squares and a column of squares with one side missing.   The steel wire the webbing is made of is very strong and hard to cut. I use a hack saw to saw about ½ way through the wire, and then use heavy pliers to bend it back and forth at the cut. It will break after a few bends.You can use a bolt cutter if you have one. Be careful as the mesh will try to roll back up and poke you with sharp edges. Did I mention to wear safety glasses?

The next step is to cut the end wires on the bottom side. This will form wire spikes that are pushed into the ground to keep the cage in place. Next, use heavy pliers to bend the last 1” of the free wires on the side to form hooks.  It should look like the drawing at this point. Fold the mesh back so that the free ends hook around the other edge. Crimp the hooks with piers to secure it. You will now have a mesh cylinder.

Drawing showing how to cut the concrete reinforcing web material. The side wires are bent into hooks prior to forming the cylinder.

Drawing showing the completed tomato cage.  

The mesh will probably be rusty, or soon will be if you expose it to the elements. Use a wire brush to remove any rust on the wire. Then give it a good coat of rust inhibiting paint. I like dark green paint. Painting by hand with a brush is time consuming, but if you use spray paint, 98% of the paint will be wasted.

These supports are plenty large for even vigorous indeterminate tomato plants. If you also grow determinate tomatoes you can cut a cage in half and get two.

These tomato cages are pretty time consuming to make. Figure about 1 ½ hours each, mostly brushing and painting. The good news is these are very rugged and should last a very long time.  I made my first ones 5 seasons ago and they show little signs of wear.  They might need new paint in a few years. 

© 2009 - 2017 Gary C. Sutcliffe

  

  

Created with the QTH.com SiteBuilder.