Using Tomato Cages is the lazy man’s way of supporting your growing tomatoes. But it is important to do something to support those tomatoes and cages are a cheap and easy way to do it.
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Using tomato cages is one of three different methods of supporting your growing tomatoes. The other two methods are staking and trellising.
Why you should be using tomato cages
I choose to use tomato cages for one main reason, they are easy, and I’m lazy!!
Using tomato cages really doesn’t require much other than the initial investment and remembering to set them out each year. That makes them the best choice in my busy life!
Using some type of support with tomatoes is important. Tomato plants can get quite large and the fruit is very heavy. Without support, the vines will collapse to the ground where all kinds of problems can occur.
Many tomato diseases are soil borne. If your tomatoes are growing on the ground there is a much bigger chance those diseases will transfer to the plant early in the season and ruin your crop. Also with your tomato plants sprawled on the ground, it is much easier for pests (both insects and critters) to get access to the ripening fruit. Tomato cages help both problems by supporting the plants and keeping the fruit off the ground!!
Buying Tomato Cages
When you are buying tomato cages be sure to spend a little extra money!! Those cheap $3 cages you see at most big box stores (and some time even the grocery stores) are terrible!!! They are too small and are made of light gauge wire. After only one season they will be helplessly bent. They usually collapse under the weight of your tomato plants or blow over in the wind.
Instead, choose more expensive cages made from heavy gauge wire. (Follow this link for the type I buy)
You can see from this photo how strong and heavy the wire is on these cages. The one in this picture is 6 years old and still hasn’t lost its shape.
Also, be sure the cages you buy are at least 4 feet tall. Also, they should have nice long legs that can go deep in the soil for support.
There are two different types of cages in my collection, both heavy gauge wire.
Overall I really like the square ones, they fold up for storage and are very stable. I have 8 of them but they seldom get used on my tomatoes because they are so handy for other plants like peas and cucumbers!!
The round cages are very strong and go deep in the soil so that they are able to support the weight on my mature plants. These are the cages I use most often in my garden and I currently have 16 of them.
How and when to put them out
I always install my tomato cages as soon as I plant my tomatoes. I’ve found that if I don’t get them out right away then I forget and they end up being a pain to put on the larger plants later.
To install simply position the legs of the cage around the tomato plant and press the legs deep into the soil. Try to get at least 10 inches of the leg into your soil. Then as your tomato plants grow. Gently move the branches of the plant back inside the cage until the central leader of the plant comes out the top of the cage.
I have found tomatoes cages are better for determinate varieties of tomatoes. Indeterminate varieties grow too tall and are better suited for staking or fences.
Ease of use is the big factor when using tomato cages! Other than a little bit of guidance you have to give the plants at first, tomato cages are pretty much just stick them in the ground and forget them till fall!!! My busy life appreciates that easy approach!
Would you like to learn more about growing tomatoes? My growing tomato heaven course is the perfect way to learn all you need to know to grow your best crop of tomatoes ever!! And for being a Stoney Acres reader you can get the 90-minute course for only $10!