Tomato Cages: How To Use, Best Types & One Type You Shouldn’t Use
Tomato cages are essential tools for supporting and training tomato plants as they grow. They help keep the plants upright, prevent sprawling, and promote better air circulation, which can reduce the risk of disease. Here’s a guide on how to use tomato cages, the best types available, and one type you should avoid:
How to use tomato cages:
Placement: Place the tomato cage in the ground around the young tomato plant. Ideally, do this at the time of planting or shortly after. This will prevent disturbing the plant’s roots later on.
Positioning: Push the legs of the cage into the soil to ensure stability. The cage should be centered around the plant, allowing it room to grow within the cage’s support structure.
Training: As the tomato plant grows, gently guide the main stem through the cage’s openings. Be careful not to snap or damage the stem while doing so. This will help the plant grow vertically and make it easier for it to produce fruit.
Pruning: For indeterminate tomato varieties (vines that continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the season), it’s essential to pinch off the suckers (small shoots that form in leaf axils) to maintain a single, strong stem that can be easily trained through the cage.
Best types of tomato cages:
Sturdy Metal Cages: Metal cages made of galvanized steel or heavy-duty wire are popular choices. They are durable, rust-resistant, and provide excellent support for tomato plants. Look for ones with large openings to allow for easy access and maintenance.
PVC Pipe Cages: Some gardeners create their tomato cages using PVC pipes. These cages are lightweight, easy to make, and can be customized to the desired height and diameter.
Folding Cages: Folding or collapsible cages are space-saving and easy to store during the offseason. They are usually made of metal or plastic and can be reused for multiple growing seasons.
One type you shouldn’t use:
Avoid flimsy or small cages made of thin wire or plastic. These types of cages may not provide enough support for the tomato plants as they grow larger and can even collapse under the weight of the plants and fruit. Look for cages with thicker gauge wire or sturdy materials to ensure they can handle the demands of supporting tomato plants effectively.
In summary, using the right type of tomato cage is essential for the successful growth of your tomato plants. Choose a sturdy and well-sized cage to offer adequate support, and follow the guidelines for training and maintenance to help your tomatoes thrive throughout the growing season.