Anyone use homemade tomato cages?

I make 6’ tomato cages with welded wire. They work well (better than those useless store bought ones that the plants outgrow by late June).

However, the problem I run into is the plants often send shoots outside through the holes in the welded wire, and then you have these branches that end up flopping down over the outside of the cage.

I tried to stuff them back in, but if I happen to go a couple days days without walking out there, sometimes they’ve grown too much and can’t be put back inside the cage without breaking the shoot.

Would I be better off to just prune these pieces off, or let them drop and do their thing at that point?

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You can use a string to support the wayward branch. Tie one end of the string to the top of the cage and wrap the other end of the string around the branch to support it.

That seems to happen with any kind of cage


I use eight foot tall cages that I have made of re-wire. When the vines escape, I tie them to the cage with the green plastic tape that comes on rolls. then send them back inside to weave them in a little.

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I used a 6 feet galvanized fence post and and taped the plant to the post with black electrical tape and continue to do so until then plant stop growing. No more cages for me.



I have the same problem but I just use the largest tomato cage I can buy from stores. I usually not too concerned about small portion of branches are out of cage as long as the main stem is supported and other branches are balanced.

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My indeterminates usually hit 7’ though.

I like the big holes, even though it allows some of the foliage to hit the ground. The big holes make it easy to weed inside the cage.


I use the “Florida Weave” system. It’s more work than cages but the plants are more tidy and I like that they get taller, I think it makes it easier to pick.

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Pictures please. Are they collapsible?

Tomatoe on the galvanized fence post

I use pvc pipe to make the cage.
Something similar to the one in the link below but mine is much smaller.

There will still be wayward branches, but I either prune it out or use another string to tie it to the cage.

I cut it using the pvc pipe cutter tool that works like a pruning shear but is for pvc pipe.

I add bamboo sticks that can be inserted into two diagonal legs since they are hollow, to provide additional support for the heavy vines.

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I made my own with hog panel from the farm store (Murdoch’s). I got a deal on the damaged ones. Use a saws all to cut it to two square width sections and then use trellis wire to make hinged corners. It was a bit of a project but they are sturdy and will never bend or break, plus they fold flat for easy storage and transport. I have to drive a section or two of conduit into the ground and wire the cage to it if it’s a tall plant so big wind gusts won’t blow the whole deal over. I used some of the extra to make smaller extensions to the cages too; so if my plants get over 5’ I plop an extension on top and secure with a couple pieces of wire and now my cage is something like 6-7’ tall. Unruly branches are woven in a time or two then pinched if needed, it just depends on how thick the vegetation already is. At our elevation my tomatoes scald from the sun pretty easy, so the heavily pruned central leader approach I don’t think would ever work because of the need for shading.

Since I’ve had so much trouble with disease in the past, I’ve gone to single stem pruning for better airflow and getting the leaves up and away from the soil quickly, plus grafting to vigorous/disease-resistant rootstocks for resistance to the soil borne issues here plus some added vigor to keep growth and fruit size up until Fall. So these get really tall/long over time.

Last year I grew each plant up a string tied up to a 7 foot support and they were over the top by several feed by the end of the season. This year I’ve set it up to go up and then across to the top to the next row, creating a tomato ceiling… we’ll see how it works. It is about a 12 foot run up and over, but probably still isn’t enough total length so I may just let them fall back down and hang over the ends at the end of the season.

It is a bit difficult to see from this picture, but there are 13 single stem tomatoes in this 14 foot row. I have a row of garlic in back (now pretty shaded, but ready to harvest anyway) and 2 rows of onions in front. This is in a community garden and with all the disease built up here over the years and this “system” seems to make a big difference in keeping them alive and producing. Overall, it is fairly inexpensive.

This row has garlic behind and a bunch of kale and chard in front. I kept the greens well picked until the tomatoes got taller so they wouldn’t shade the seedling plants.

If we get a hurricane I’m in trouble…


It looks great!!!

Is this the sort of community garden where you can keep installations from year to year, or do they all have to come down in the fall?

There is a vague requirement to clean up your garden at the end of the year (by November 15 I believe), but there isn’t a specific requirement to remove structures. I take down all the lines, pull out temporary stakes for peppers, etc. and will also take down the small bamboo over the top when I pull the lines. And of course take out all the frost killed tomatoes, peppers, etc. I do leave the large uprights and cross pieces in place. I usually have kale and other greens that survive through the winter, plus garlic started, so the garden is still technically active all year.

That said, I do wish they would be a bit more strict about what they mean by clean up the gardens, since many people grow in buckets, etc., plus the guy next to me has this bright orange mesh hanging all over his posts. It looks pretty trashy when all the vegetation is gone in the winter.

Here, the community garden plots are all plowed under in the fall and re-allotted in the spring, and anything left is hauled away

Yikes, how would anyone grow garlic and the like?

Here some of the plots have been held by the same person for years and years. Actually, the first plots were something like 25X40 and those people have been grandfathered in to keep those big plots. Some people actually have fruit trees in those big plots, although I doubt they get much here without spraying.

Whenever someone leaves them, the big plots are divided up into 4-6 separate plots. My first plot was 9X18, but I was granted a larger plot of 14x20ish for good behavior. There is a long waiting list but a lot of turnover as well, with at least half never making it through the first year when they realize the romantic, YouTube-inspired idea of gardening is a lie and it is actually 90% heartbreak and battling the weeds.

Annuals only

And the weeds - grassy - are humongous

These plots are 20x20