It’s that time of year to put those tomatoes in the ground! YAY!!!!! As much as I love our tomatoes, they sure are needy little things. They’re always like “I’m thirsty, I’m hungry! I fell over! There’s bugs on me! This weed is touching me!”Â Sheesh! Yes, as wonderful as they are, they sure do need some additional attention and support. Emotional support (in the form of fish emulsion application and pep talks) and physical support. Oh yeah, we’re talking about the ever so important tomato cage. Those of you that usually buy tomato cages at big box stores can know how flimsy and unreliable can be. Instead of buying those or stringing up trellises, we make our own super sturdy and durable tomato cages from highway mesh. They’re very cost effective, can be used year after year, really strong and really awesome. We start out with a roll of highway mesh. You can find this at Home Depot, Lowes or farm supply stores. First, cut that sucker open with your bolt cutters but watch out because it can spring back and bite ya!
Now it’s time toÂ cut the highway mesh into the appropriate length. Start by cutting off the end of the wire, leaving you with open ended squares. You’ll use this end to tie together the opposite end, making a circle. It’ll make sense in a little bit. I promise. Now, you’ll measure out the appropriate length of wire you need for the diameter of cage that you want. We count eight full squares, then make a cut. This will leave you with a piece of wire that has one “open” end and one “closed” end.
Now that the piece of wire is cut, it’s time to construct the cage. Bend the wire so that the ends meet together. Take the wire pieces from the “open” end and bend it around the closed end to temporarily tether them together. Slightly bend the wires to one side. This prevents you from getting poked from the wire and also will serve as a guide when you bend the wire completely around.
Now, you can do this next step by hand (which we did with the first 100 cages). Or you can use this cool little tool thing that is actually a pin for our tractor implements. The hole for the clip is actually the perfect size for our tomato cage wire! You’ll take this tool, put the wire through the hole and use that to twist the wire around, securing it to the “closed” end and therefore making your circular cage.
Once you have all of the wires twisted around, you have a tomato cage! Almost. You’ll have a tear drop looking wire structure. Push down on the sides you just tied (the pointy end) and try to flatten it out so you have more of a circle than a tear drop.
Now all that’s left is to cut the bottom wire! Use the bolt cutters to cut out the very bottom line of the wire so that you have spokes sticking out. This is the end that you’ll shove into the ground.
And just like that you have a DIY tomato cage that you can use for years and years! It takes a little investment but if you’re growing many tomatoes and are sick of buying cages every year, it really pays to make your own!