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?
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
Big end down, & bend the cut spike wires 180 Deg to hold a cage
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
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.
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. ;)
....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).
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.
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
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
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
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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