Giving your tomatoes proper support is the least you can do in return for a tasty harvest of fresh, home-grown tomatoes. Wire mesh offers an excellent choice for providing that support, as store-bought tomato cages can be too short and too narrow for most tomato plants. Experts at Mother Earth News recommend concrete reinforcing, 9 gauge mesh wire, which is stiff enough to provide good support while still being pliable. One 5-foot panel will form one cage, so plan to buy a 10-foot roll for two panels, or 20 feet of wire for four panels.
Cut a 5-foot panel from the roll of mesh to form the circumference of the cage. Most gardeners use the height of the roll itself for the height of the cage, which will be 5 or 6 feet. This is the perfect height for support and also eliminates the need to cut the mesh, so you will have safer edges on the top of the cage.
Cut off the closed end of the roll, leaving horizontal prongs that you can use later for securing the cage to itself.
Bend the prongs halfway. You will use these prongs to secure the sides of the cage.
Form a cylinder with an 18-foot diameter, bending each prong tightly to secure the sides of the cage together.
Cut off the bottom wire, leaving vertical wire prongs that you can push into the ground to stabilize the cage.
Drive two stakes into the ground on either side of the cage if you live in an area that is very windy. Secure the cage to the stakes with wire, twine or plastic strapping. This step is optional and is not needed if your tomatoes are grown in a sheltered location.