Tomato cages are used to support growing tomato plants, in order to ensure that they grow vertically, instead of sprawling horizontally. Tomatoes start rotting when they come in contact with the ground, so it is necessary to provide them some sort of support for vertical growth. This is where tomato cages come into the picture.
Besides supporting vertical growth, these cages also secure plants against wind, make it easier for you to harvest the crop, and minimize the spread of insects from one plant to another.
There are different types of tomato cages available in the market, including wooden, plastic, and steel cages. The problem though, is that most of them are pretty expensive. The easiest solution to this is to build cages on your own.
How to Build Tomato Cages?
Making tomato cages on your own is not a difficult task. You just need to arm yourself with a few tools and the material from which you plan to make your cage. They can be made from various materials, including wood, bamboo, and metal wires. Depending on your budget you can decide which material to use. Using wood or bamboo can be relatively cheaper than using steel or metal wires.
Cut two 8-feet 1×3 inch stripes of wood in order to make pair of rungs for the ladder of the tomato cage. The first two rungs of the cage should be 21 inches long, the next two should be 19 inches, while the last two should be 17 inches long. Cut two 20 inch boards to make braces which will support the sides of the ladder. Take two more 8-feet 1×3 inch stripes of wood to make the legs of the ladder and attach them to the either side of the 8-inch 2×4 scrap board piece. Take a drilling machine and drill holes in the wooden legs and fix them to the wooden board using some 3 inch deck screws. Make sure that you reach pivot point when you drill the screw to fix the legs.
To assemble the tomato cage, take the largest rung and position it at the bottom. With the help of the drilling machine, screw the 21 inch wooden board at an approximate distance of 7 inches from the bottom. In the same way, fix the 19 inch board at an approximate distance of 12 inches from the first rung, and 17 inch board at an approximate distance of 15 inches from the second rung. This will ensure that the base of your homemade tomato cage is broader than the top and hence, the cage will stand straight effortlessly. (You can also go the other way round and keep a narrow base, but then you will have to fasten it to something to ensure that it doesn't fall.)
Repeat the same procedure on the other side of the ladder. Once you are done with this, make the ladder stand straight and spread it out and fix 20-inch 1×3 braces of wood at an approximate distance of 27 inches from the base of the ladder on either side. Now that your tomato cage is ready, you can place it on the tomato plant. While placing, make sure that its legs are staked outside to provide it proper balance.
You can also opt to make a tomato cage from steel or wire mesh. In fact, you can use something as simple as poultry-fencing wire to make good tomato cages for your plants. The procedure will be the same, but instead of screws, you will have to use welding machine to put the parts together. By making these cages at home, you will get a reliable product at a relatively low price.