Large tomato plants grown in your home garden will often require support to prevent breakage or to keep them off the ground. Although determinate varieties reach a height of only a foot or two, indeterminate varieties continue to grow throughout the summer, reaching heights of 4 to 6 feet depending on the cultivar and the length of the growing season. Determinate tomato plants typically do not require support, but indeterminate varieties will sprawl on the ground without it, exposing the fruit to disease. Many gardeners prefer wire cages to provide the support tomato plants need.
Examine tomato cages before you buy one. Inexpensive cages made from lightweight wire bend and topple under the weight of large tomato plants. Look for sturdy cages made with heavyweight wire. Choose one with a height of 3 feet or more and strong weld points that resist bending.
Spread the three spikes of metal at the bottom of the cage apart to straighten. When purchased, spikes are folded together for ease of storage, but will not support the weight of a tomato plant in this position.
Position the cage over a newly planted seedling and push the spikes into the soil to a depth of six inches or more. Check that the cage is securely anchored in the soil. Firm soil around the spikes to secure the cage if necessary.
Making Your Own Tomato Cages
Cut a 5 to 5-1/2-foot length of pasture wire or wire fencing with 4-inch to 6-inch openings. The openings provide room for harvesting and caring for the tomatoes.
Roll the fencing into a cylinder and wire the ends together to form a secure seam. This creates a heavy-duty tomato cage suitable for indeterminate tomatoes.
Cut the bottom ring of the wire cage with wire cutters removing horizontal sections and leaving the vertical wires as spikes for anchoring the cage into the ground.
Place the cage over tomato seedlings anchoring the spikes into the soil.
Drive three to four plant stakes into the soil around the outside of the base of the cage to secure it and to prevent toppling from the weight of growing plants or from strong winds.
About this Author
Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.