Tomato Rings

I am rather new at gardening and I put quite a few tomato plants in my small garden and they are taking over the whole thing. Someone told me I need metal tomato rings. Yeah, I know what they are. But 2 problems. First off, I think it may be too late to install them. But maybe I can still move the plants (maybe). The other thing is those rings are quite costly and I am on a very tight budget. This garden is supposed to save money not cost a fortune. Can I make them out of any sort of recyclable item? I have a scrap metal pile, any ideas? Maybe just wooden sticks?????
Finally, for some reason, some sort of squash or pumpkin, or watermellon is growing in the garden. I know it's one of those type of plants. It is growing on it's own. However, I did toss some old squash and things in there in spring. They had gone bad to eat, so I just tossed them out there. I assume one of them is what I am seeing. They are fortunately growing near the edge of the garden where I put some lettuce which the rabbits ate, so I may as well let them grow and they are getting flowers already. Whatever they are will be a surprise. However they were growing into the tomatoes. I pulled them off and got them going over onto the lawn now. Is there some sort of thing I should put on them to climb? If yes, what?
Thanks
Mark
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

Yes, you may be too late to install 54" tall tomato ring cages....
The small ring diameter end is 10" Dia. on a 54" tall cage..
54" units (4 rings with 4 vertical wires) come in two price ranges:
$5 ea thick wire units at Fleet & Farm or Menards home supply.
$2 ea thinner wire units at Home Depot (made in China).
I use a bolt cutter to remove the 4 'spiked ends', invert the cage with
Big end down, & bend the cut spike wires 180 Deg to hold a cage down.
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To paraphrase garden writer James Crockett, no self-respecting tomato plant will be PROPERLY supported by any of the silly contraptions sold in stores & catalogs. You have to build your own, but you only need to do it once.
With the help of several people, you MIGHT be able to lift the plants, slip a properly designed cage over the plant and get it upright. But, you'll probably damage the plant. On the other hand, the deer are decimating the branches of my plants that stick out of the pages, and I'm still getting loads of tomatoes. Apparently, the plants are very resilient. Just don't damage the main stem. Or trunk, if your plants are monsters already.
Here are pictures of cages that (based on experience) will stand up to 60 mph winds: http://s27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/ancientangler /
They're made from 5 foot high plastic coated fence wire, $50-ish per roll at Home Despot. The stuff lasts forever, unless you lose your cages in your divorce, in which case you have to buy more wire. After assembling them, cut 4-5 larger holes to reach into for weeding & harvesting. The holes tend to get lost in the foliage, so mark them by tying some bright colored ribbon at each spot. And, metal fence posts (about $4.00 each) work better than the tubular posts shown in my pictures.
The beer in the picture is not mandatory, but recommended.
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I would just put some tall stakes in ground at each end of the tomatoes and run twine (or cheap clothesline) back and forth for support. Elaine in Ga Zone 7b

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Me, too. Or just pound in four long stakes around each plant (closer at the base and leaning outward at the top) and run string or wire around it from bottom to top, tightening up the stakes as desired.
THAT'S gardening on a budget. ($50 rolls of fencing... Sheesh. ;)
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Hey...the stuff lasts for years. It's like $2.50 a year.
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....and if half your tomatoes rot on the ground, where "the economy"? With cages, they're all up in the air, nice & clean, and because they're shaded by the leaves, there's less cracking (which is also caused by irregular watering - a different subject).
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Why would you assume that the tomatoes are on the ground just because someone uses wooden stakes?
The whole point of using wooden stakes is to tie the tomatoes up off the ground. Once the plnat is tied to the stake it's just a matter of tying up the top again as it grows.
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This year I started out making my own cages....left over 4 foot green wire garden fencing....then the wind and rain blow them over.
Then I had to re-enforce everything with wire/rope and posts for extra support. Also my budget fencing was not tall enough. Better Boys out grew it by at least 2 feet.
Next year I will make a proper support system from 4 strong stakes and some clotheslines thank you. Elaine in Ga Zone 7b

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BTW this method does not let the plants lay on the ground if you tend your garden and it is re-enforced correctly. They stay nice and clean this way too. Just a different method.
Elaine in Ga Zone 7b

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Well I must be very cheap. I've only ever used one wooden stake per plant and had no problems.
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wrote

How thick are these stakes you use?
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Someone told

Yes. The wooden stakes are usually installed as the tomato seedlings are planted to prevent damage to the roots by driving them in later. Just tie the tomato loosley to the stakes with anything (old stockings are good)
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We grew tomatoes on the farm by the basketfuls and we never used anything but tall stakes driven deep into the ground. We tied the plants to the stakes as the plants grew.
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I make mine out of scrap cement reinforcing wire. 5 ft tall with gig holes to get the fruit out. I put a steel post at each end of a row and run a wire through the top of the cages so they won't blow down. I had one tomato this year that weighed 2 lb 9 1/2 oz.
From Mel & Donnie in Bluebird Valley
http://community.webtv.net/MelKelly/TheKids
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I use concrete rebar cut into 5 foot lengths and driven into the ground. Tie the tomato plants to the rebar as they grow. I have used old panty hose because they don't chafe the plant like rope or twine can sometimes. Now that the wife is retired, my panty hose supply is diminished, so I have resorted to twine.
Another method that works well is to make a cage about 3 1/2 feet in diameter out of some type of fencing about 3 feet high. I plant 4 tomatoes around the cage and begin filling the center of the cage with composting material (grass clippings, kitchen waste, coffee grounds, etc.) I drive the rods around the ring near the plants and begin tying as described above. The plants are fed and mulched and grow well. They seem to outproduce the ones growing singularly elsewhere in the garden.
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