Growing tomatoes is a rewarding experience. Once you've chosen the perfect spot and prepared the soil, it's time to think about supporting your tomato plants. A tomato cage is an easy way to keep your plants tidy and help them produce more fruits. Wiring a tomato cage properly ensures your plants get the support they need to thrive all season long.
Choose the Right Cage Size
The first step in wiring a tomato cage is selecting the proper size. Tomato cages come in a range of diameters from 18 inches up to 5 feet across.
The size you need depends on two factors:
Tomato variety - Small cherry or grape tomatoes only require an 18-24 inch cage. Large beefsteak varieties need more room to grow, so choose a 3-5 foot diameter cage.
Number of plants - If planting multiple tomatoes in one area, opt for a larger cage or use one cage per plant.
Proper cage height is also important. Select a cage at least 1-2 feet taller than the expected mature height of your tomato variety. This prevents the cage from becoming too constricting.
Gather the Right Tomato Cage Materials
Once you've selected the ideal tomato cage size, gather these supplies to wire it properly:
- Tomato cage - Wire, metal, or plastic
- Wire cutters - To trim wire pieces
- Garden ties or clips - For securing wires
- Sturdy stakes - If needed for extra support
For wiring metal cages, use 12-14 gauge galvanized steel wire. This provides flexibility and strength to withstand weather and plant growth.
Plastic cages often have pre-formed wire channels, so may only needwire ends trimmed and attached.
Add Vertical Wires for Support
Tomato cages provide support through a series of vertical wires. These keep plants contained and prevent sprawling.
Add vertical wires every 4-6 inches around the cage:
- Measure and cut wire pieces to fit from top to bottom of cage
- Space wires evenly around the inside of the cage
- Use garden ties or clips to firmly attach wires to the top and bottom cage rings
Having wires on all sides helps disperse the plant's weight as it grows. This prevents collapse or sagging to one side.
Include a Middle Support Ring
Taller cages over 4 feet benefit from an extra horizontal support ring in the middle. This prevents wires from bowing outward under the weight of fruits and foliage.
To add a middle support:
- Measure the halfway point up the side of the cage
- Cut a wire this length
- Bend into a circle the same diameter as the cage
- Attach securely to the vertical wires using ties or clips
The middle ring helps redistribute weight for better stability.
Drive Stakes Beside the Cage if Needed
For extra stability, add 1-2 stakes driven into the ground on either side of the tomato cage. Use stakes that are:
- 6-8 feet tall
- 2-3 inches wide
Attach the cage to the stakes with tomato twine or metal brackets. The stakes act as buttresses to prevent the cage from swaying or leaning.
Tips for Sturdy Tomato Cage Wiring
Follow these wiring best practices for tomato cages that stand up all season:
- Use thick wire - At least 12 gauge
- Space verticals closely - Every 4-6 inches
- Secure wires tightly - No loose connections
- Check wires weekly - Reinforce any loose spots
- Support from stakes - If needed for heavy plants
Properly wiring your tomato cage provides the backbone for healthy plants and an abundant harvest!