Along with the garden renovation, we also did some research on tomato staking to see if we should be using a better system. After lots of research, we settled on some more substantial tomato cages, rather than the many other great options out there. Traditional tomato cages (like these) are a little flimsy and too short, so our tomatoes always end up toppling over or not reaching their potential.
I settled on these directions to get me started, but I bought about 30 yards of four-foot tall fencing instead of concrete mesh. It was substantially less expensive, but still sturdy. I did fourteen cages in a nap time one afternoon (about an hour and a half) from start to finish, so these were much easier than I was anticipating.
- I would highly recommend wearing sun/safety glasses and work gloves. I didn’t wear glasses at first, and the sharp wire edges popped back and almost hit me in the face. I quickly resorted to grabbing some very fashionable safety glasses!
- Find something long and heavy-ish to use to hold down one end of the fencing as you un-roll it. I had a scrap 2×4 that was the perfect size.
- Unroll the fencing, placing your heavy object on one end. I counted out about 18-24 sections. The sections in my roll of fencing were a little over an inch, so it made my finished tomato cages about a foot+ in diameter. I cut them in a random assortment of sizes, so that I could nest them in the off-season (if they were all the same size, they wouldn’t nest). Use a wire cutter to cut at your desired length. You’ll want to cut close to the end of your section, so that you only have loose wire on one side versus both sides (this will make more sense once you’re actually doing it – I promise!).
- After you make the cuts, remove your object holding down the other end and bring the two ends together to form a rough circle. Bend the loose wire ends around the opposite side of your cage to hold them together. I made a little bit of a curly-cue with the sharp end pointing back in the direction of the wire in hopes of avoiding getting caught on it.
We bought some four-foot rebar stakes that we put in the garden and then affixed the cages to the rebar stakes to keep them sturdy. Some people cut off the wire along the bottom to create stakes to put into the ground, but we wanted the cages as tall as possible, and I think the rebar is sturdier. Here’s the finished product in the garden:
I’ll write up a full report at the end of the season, of course!