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Tomato cages - size and design

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Tomato cages - size and design

Post  playinthedirt on 1/23/2015, 9:15 pm

Hello all,

I would  like your thoughts on tomato cages.  I'm guessing I will have to construct some since what I've seen so far at the garden centers are too short, too flimsy, etc.  

You should know that I constructed my raised bed prior to discovering the SFG concept.  It is in the shape of a capital 'E' in order to take best advantage of the available space.  I plan to put my tomatoes in the bottom leg of the 'E' which is about 80" x 40".

I made a cage this afternoon out of 2 x 2 and 1 x 2 lumber.  When it's in the ground, it will be 5' tall and 16" square.  It is sturdy for sure but I wonder if it needs to be that big on the sides ... maybe 12" per side would be adequate.  What other options are out there.

This is my first attempt at asking for help.  Hope I've followed protocol.  If not, I'd appreciate someone filling me in on what I did wrong.
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  sanderson on 1/23/2015, 10:21 pm

Can you post a photo?  I wish there was a topic/thread with nothing but photos of tomato support systems.  It seems there are lots of good ideas but they get buried in other topics.

Can you folks post a photo of your different support systems? Camp uses the French weave method. Someone else (Kay?) grows tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets set in a row with a nifty PVC support stand in each bucket.

Early Girl in large pot with cage:
Determinant Roma pruned to single main stem when short, then triple stems when taller.  Long pieces of plastic stretchy tape was tied to overhead  horizontal board and dropped down to each stem.
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  yolos on 1/23/2015, 10:53 pm

I have tried all different types.  The cages below are Texas Tomato cages.  The texas tomato cages are not really suited to most square foot gardens because they are so large (mine are 24" diameter and about 8' tall) and quite pricey.  But they sure work nice. 
 


I have also tried hanging a cord down from above and wrapping it around the tomato plant as it grows taller, but that takes a little time keeping it suckered and wraped.

 
I have also used the Florida Weave but that takes a little more time keeping the tomatoes corralled.


And smaller cages which I don't like for indeterminate tomatoes because they are not tall or sturdy enough.


And I have also tried using nylon netting beside the tomatoes.  Too much work keeping things tidy.  I don't know how you get the front branches tied into the netting which is in the back.  I guess you have to prune the ones growing out in the front.  This was the end of the season and almost everything is dead or dying. 
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  Turan on 1/23/2015, 11:00 pm

Well, this shows 3 ways I do it. 1) A bent round of mesh fencing for the rambunctious cherry tomato that is not pruned. 2) Square folding cages that I now mostly use for cucumbers etc but also have done great for tomatoes if short enough.  String tied to over head  support that I wind the plant up during the season, this requires a bit of pruning but not so much as to bother me.  I try to keep each plant to 2 leaders.  I also use the standard 3 legged tomato cages for small stuff, including sometimes bush tomatoes.


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Tomato cages - size and design

Post  playinthedirt on 1/24/2015, 9:00 am

Thanks for the ideas and photos.  I'll send a photo of my situation when there is something to photograph.

Couple more questions: 

how big in diameter should the cage be?  I've made one so far that is 16" square.  Could I get by with a smaller size?  It looks huge now with nothing growing in it but it may be too small in a couple of months. 

I see where several people have mentioned pruning their plants so that a single stem comes out of the ground and then 3-4 side shoots are allowed to grow as the plant grows.  Is this SOP?
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  jimmy cee on 1/24/2015, 9:15 am

I tend not to be as concerned about being pretty as others do ( wife )
Stainless steel and I have become friends over the years since I have had access to them  for quite some time.
Before SFG I was able to drive stakes deep into the ground, that would support any tomatos once tied, however since there are now restrictions as to how deep I can go I go down as deep as I can without going through the weed barrier, then support the structure on the top and anchor to a solid post (which I have everywhere)
The round pieces seen on the containers can be made square also, actually they are able to be made to fit anywhere, ANYSIZE,
just cut and fit from the roll..





As mentioned any size needed may be done
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  has55 on 1/24/2015, 10:27 am

wow, great pictures and wonderful ideas. I used the bird netting technique. I used tomatoes clamps. I just let the plants grow tall enough to get to the netting, then clamped it. I have two types of clamps, small and large, but I'm just showing the small ones. these work wonderfully. I picked off the suckers and when the limbs get large or long enough I just clamped it and it will guide itself toward the direction I clamped and weaved it. 
I used reinforcement concrete wires for the peppers plant. the tomatoes plants would overwhelmed these even at 8 ft tall.


 

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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  Turan on 1/24/2015, 11:39 am

As to spacing~
Every time I try close spacings like 12-16" I regret it.   Closer means strict pruning and harder to reach around/through etc.  You can grow fast maturing greens/radishes/ maybe even broccoli between where the tomatoes will/are planted.  Then pull them out as they finsih and the tomatoes need the room.  Some plants like living in the tomatoes shade,  I hear carrots do.

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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  has55 on 1/25/2015, 4:54 am

@Turan wrote:As to spacing~
Every time I try close spacings like 12-16" I regret it.   Closer means strict pruning and harder to reach around/through etc.  You can grow fast maturing greens/radishes/ maybe even broccoli between where the tomatoes will/are planted.  Then pull them out as they finsih and the tomatoes need the room.  Some plants like living in the tomatoes shade,  I hear carrots do.

good idea, turan
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  llama momma on 1/25/2015, 8:04 am

playinthe dirt

How about another idea. If you get around to indeterminate maters these are eight foot tall cattle panels.  Got six of these so far.  I like them a lot.  Just weave the plants in and out and prune well.  There is one foot spacing between the four plants.  



 
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  camprn on 1/25/2015, 9:19 am

I use the Florida weave method.

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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  has55 on 1/25/2015, 10:29 am

@camprn wrote:I use the Florida weave method.
camprn, would you happen to have any pictures?
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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  camprn on 1/25/2015, 11:06 am

@has55 wrote:
@camprn wrote:I use the Florida weave method.
camprn, would you happen to have any pictures?








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Re: Tomato cages - size and design

Post  has55 on 1/26/2015, 12:21 am

Thank you camprn. awesome pictures. explains alot.
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