Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: Do you have recommendations on tomato cages? I bought the heavier gauge tapered cylinder ones at the “big box store”. Even though they are sturdy the bigger heavier tomato plants tipped them to the side. I then built wood ones out of 2 x 2 and 1 x 2 and they were sturdy but rotted after two summers in well-watered soil. Ideas?
Those big indeterminate varieties can get quite unwieldy! If the wire cages you have are big enough, you could try tying them to a (e.g. re-bar) stake firmly anchored in the ground to stop them falling over.
But, but if you want something more hefty, my favorite (and what we use at the Master Gardener demonstration garden) are made of concrete reinforcing mesh. This generally comes in a 5 ft. width, tall enough to roll up into a cage. You can buy a roll at most home improvement stores - sometimes you can find flat pieces, but I have not found any that are big enough to make the cage. As for how to make them, a Google search will come up with a number of sites giving clear instructions. I use heavy duty zip ties with a one square overlap to connect mine - that way I can cut the ties and store them flat at the end of the season.
One other tip - I have found that tying the cage to a re-bar stake prevents any toppling over, and these stakes last for many years.
I hope this helps, and good luck with your garden, and tomato growing!
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SMW)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer our gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, although we will be moving this spring. We will notify you if/when that occurs. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)/table>