If you visit any random garden, it’s rare not to find tomatoes. One thing about tomatoes is that they’re easy to grow and produce an incredible harvest in just a few months.
You can plant your tomato seedlings during spring, and by summer, you have a huge plant that produces a rewarding number of tomatoes.
But the rapid growth of your tomatoes and their tower height signifies that they require support to remain upright.
That’s where a DIY tomato cage comes in. Find out how to make one to support your tomato harvest.
What Is A Tomato Cage?
Before we baffle you with all kinds of info, let’s first define tomato cages. Learn what they are and the different types of cages you can make.
Just like the name suggests, a tomato cage is a simple structure. It is meant to support the growth of tomatoes by securing the top stems of these plants.
Tomato cages come in different shapes and sizes depending on the size and type of your garden. To better understand DIY tomato cages, it’s helpful to describe some of the more common types of designs that gardeners use.
1. Reinforcing Wire Mesh Tomato Cage
This is the ultimate DIY tomato cage.
Simple, efficient, and convenient, especially for many beginners. You can construct this type by using concrete reinforcing wire mesh modeled into cylindrical shapes.
2. A-Frame Tomato Cage
This type of tomato cage is for those gardeners who love to grow tomatoes up to six feet tall.
An A-shaped framework with strings running down from the top support column holds your tomatoes upright.
3. Florida Weave String Tomato Cage
This is one of my favorite tomato cage designs. It resembles a cradle-like cage for cats.
It has four corner columns to form a rectangular or square shape around your plants. Strings are tied to each column to create a cage that you modify to the shape you want.
You then attach the tomato plants to the columns with string to ensure healthy growth.
4. Diagonal string tomato cage
This DIY tomato cage is a common choice for many indoor gardeners, which they also tend to use for outdoor gardens.
This cage has large support frames running along the top of the plants. You can make the frame from metal or wood. Tie the string to the top frame and attach it to the tomato plants for upright support.
You can access all parts of the plants using this cage.
5. Horizontal Tomato Cage
This horizontal DIY tomato cage is a simple design you make by constructing a pair of horizontal mesh panels that you support with corner posts. You then plant the tomatoes right below the horizontal panel so that they grow through the mesh.
While there are dozens of tomato cages, it is possible only to highlight a few to help you appreciate the concept of a DIY tomato cage.
Why is it essential to use a tomato cage?
So, why do you need a DIY tomato cage?
Some gardeners might think that they can grow their tomatoes without using tomato cages. Although it is possible for some tomato varieties, they tend to fall from the weight of the fruit, which spoils the crop.
Using a DIY tomato cage is a must for every serious gardener. Their benefits are endless, and you’ll notice differences between tomatoes grown using a tomato cage and those without enclosures.
Here are the reasons why it’s vital to use tomato cages:
1. Reduces Overcrowding
Once those tomato plants start growing tall, the heavy branches start bending. Imagine when all plants placed 1.5 feet apart all start bending. The space between them disappears and leads to overcrowding and damage.
DIY tomato cages hold the plant upright to avoid this problem. With tomato cages, each plant has its own growing space.
2. Prevents Rot
Once your plants start carrying tomatoes, they become heavy. Gravity pulls the tomatoes towards the ground due to the weight. The plant stems are too weak to keep the plant in an upright position.
When the tomatoes remain in contact with the ground for too long, they become susceptible to all kinds of conditions, causing rot. Excess moisture on the ground leads to disease, and your crop goes bad.
The DIY tomato cage ensures that plants remain off the ground to prevent diseases that spread through the soil.
3. Prevents Tomato Stems From Bending And Breaking
Once the tomato plants start bearing fruit, they become heavy and fall over. Tomato cages help the stems to remain upright and prevent the branches from breaking.
The risk of complete breaking of branches is high, especially with large varieties such as the Amana Orange tomato. To prevent damage, every gardener should use DIY tomato cages to support the growing plants.
4. Easy Access For Harvesting, Watering, Or Pruning
As the plants grow, you need proper access to harvest, prune, and water them.
With DIY tomato cages, the plants are always upright and take less space, providing more room for better accessibility. Also, it’s easier to prune the plants when they are upright.
5. Protects Plants From Cold
Tomato cages enable you to protect plants from the cold by providing a suitable frame for wrapping grow covers over the cages to protect your plants.
These covers protect the plants from frost during the cold season.
How To Make Your Own Tomato Cage
This DIY tomato cage makes it easier and fun to promote the healthy growth of your plants.
Building tomato cages is also straightforward, so you don’t need special skills to make this simple frame. Once you have the right tools and equipment, you’re set to build your DIY tomato cage.
However, there are dozens of different tomato cage designs that you can choose from. But you’ll build a tomato cage depending on the type of the garden (indoor/outdoor) and the size of the tomato plants.
For this DIY tomato cage guide, you’ll learn how to build one of the simplest cages–a reinforcing wire tomato cage.
Check out the right tools, equipment, and a step-by-step guide that you can use to build your own DIY tomato cage.
Tools and equipment
One roll of concrete reinforcing mesh.
Two cinder blocks.
Step by step guide
Use these simple steps to construct your DIY tomato cage.
Unroll the reinforcing wire mesh. Ensure that you wear gloves and safety shoes when handling this wire mesh. The wire mesh is springy, so place one cinder block on one end of the roll.
Continue unrolling to the desired length–eight feet will suffice. Place the second cinder block on this end to prevent the wire from rolling up again.
Use the bolt cutters to cut off eight feet of the reinforcing wire mesh (equal to 11 squares from the end).
Remove the first cinder block from one end to roll the reinforcing wire into a cylindrical shape.
Next, use the pliers to shape the end of the cut wire to the opposite end to create a cylindrical shape. Be careful when handling the sharp end of the wire.
Using bolt cutters, cut the bottom horizontal row of the reinforcing wire mesh to create stakes.
Stakes are essential for securing the tomato cage in the ground.
Repeat the above process if you want to build more than one DIY tomato cage.
Ensure that you place the tomato cage around the tomato plants by firmly securing the cage in the soil.
You can always build different sizes of tomato cages. For example, if you grow giant tomato plants, construct a 7 feet tall cage.
Here’s what is great about this DIY tomato cage:
Simple construction for beginners.
Easy installation–pick and place.
6-inch-wide openings provide easy access to plants for harvesting or pruning.
Sturdy–it’ll provide the much-needed support for your tomato plants.
Reusable: After harvesting your tomatoes, you simply store the cage and reuse it again for the next planting season.
Durable: They last up to 15 years.
Always position the DIY tomato cage before the plants grow too tall. Trying to place the tomato cage over an overgrown plant securely may cause damage.
Take precautions against strong winds by using stake loops to hold the tomato cage in place to protect the plants further.
Growing your tomatoes in a cage offers significant protection for these plants. When you build the DIY tomato cage yourself, you also enjoy a sense of accomplishment in supporting their healthy growth.
As one of the most loved vegetables, tomatoes deserve that extra effort to take care of them.
Investing additional time in learning about DIY tomato cages guarantees you better harvests. If you’re not a practical person, you can purchase ready-built tomato cages for your garden.
This purchase is a valid option for any gardener who doesn’t want the hassle of constructing their own DIY tomato cage.
Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.