Tomatoes are warm-weather vegetables, need more sunlight than other vegetables, and their taste is unmatched by a store-bought variety. Therefore, it is important for gardeners to produce the maximum yield, they’ll need to use tomato cages.
Gardeners often grow tomatoes because of the desire to obtain the perfect vegetables. Traditionally, tomatoes are valued for their fruitiness, sweetness, and aromatic qualities which make them a perfect vegetable and a dream to growers.
Growth Period Of Tomato And Sowing Recommendation
Generally speaking, the number of “days to harvest” ranges from 60 to more than 100 days. The actual duration to harvest depends on each cultivar.
Tomatoes are a warm-seasoned crop that cannot resist frost, so they cannot be sowed too early in the ground. Therefore, tomatoes are not suitable for outdoor growing until the soil is warm enough.
It is recommended to plant seedlings or transplant young plants instead of seeds because of long growing seasons and late planting dates. Therefore, consult a reputable nursery that can provide you young and healthy tomato plants.
Plants with strong stems about the size of a pencil are short and stocky, green in color, and about one inch deep will perform better as young seedlings.
However, some other considerable factors while choosing a seedling are: leaves should be free of spots and yellowing, as well as fruit and blossom buds.
In addition to all other factors, pests and diseases do pose a threat to tomatoes, therefore, it is very important to use disease-resistant cultivars whenever possible.
Cultivable Tomato Varieties
The most commonly known variety of tomatoes is “bush” which can grow up to a height of 3 feet. Typically, on these types, the fruit is abundant and there is minimal growth of leaves after the fruit sets.
These varieties are typically more productive earlier in the growing season than vine varieties. These plants can be grown in containers or small spaces since they do not need to be staked or caged.
They are considered to be vine-ripened varieties and from mid-summer until the beginning of winter produce large slicing tomatoes.
Indeterminate tomato varieties yield more evenly throughout the season due to their higher leaf growth rates. Furthermore, because of their viny nature, the indeterminate tomato varieties need cage support to stand upright.
Growing Habit And Need Of Tomato Cage
Because of the flexible stem, it is impossible to grow tomatoes without support. As tomato plants grow quickly and become towering in size, trellising or cages are required for them to keep standing upright and prevent them from tumbling over and sprawling out.
Furthermore, after fruit development, when they are loaded with heavy, juicy fruit, their relatively flexible and tall stems become too heavy to stand upright. Ultimately, the tomato plant will be damaged due to its lanky and heavy nature without the support of a tomato cage and the plant will sprawl if it is not supported timely.
Consequently, they will also become highly vulnerable to pests, disease, and rot. Tomatoes require support throughout the growing season for many reasons:
- Tomato plants need cages, or trellises, in order to grow and be productive.
- To mitigate the risk of tomato diseases arising from the soil, you should avoid letting plants lay down within your garden bed.
- Tomatoes tend to prefer drier conditions, but they grow best in a cage because it keeps the air flowing around the foliage to prevent it from rotting after rainstorms or watering.
- When tomatoes are grown upright, harvesting is much easier.
Time To Use Tomato Cages
Indeterminate and determinate tomato plants can both benefit from cages.
Plants that are determined to grow remain smaller, usually three to five feet tall. A shorter period is allowed for the fruit to mature, resulting in one large, abundant harvest. Since determinate tomatoes do not require pruning or fancy training, cages are very advantageous for them. Because the determinate plant’s yield will suffer if branches are pruned away.
A tomato that grows indeterminately produces fruit for a greater amount of time. Especially when side branches are pruned, some plants can grow as high as 7 feet or even higher. Because they have a vigorous vine growing habit, many gardeners prefer to train indeterminate tomatoes on string, or stake rather than cages.
For indeterminate tomatoes, cages remain useful, particularly if you’re planning to prune them minimally. Moreover, cages along with providing support also allow the plants to run wild essentially. However, it is recommended to tuck up long branches within the tomato cage every once in a while, so that the plant can be in place and perform efficiently.
Guide And Considerations To Make Tomato Cages
Tools and Materials
- Hand gloves made from leather
- Steel mesh reinforced with concrete, one roll of 150 feet, 5′ wide.
- A pair of cinder blocks
- A pair of milk crates
- Stainless steel bolt cutter
- Twine made from jute
- Wooden stake or metal stakes 2′ high
To make an impressive and easy operatable cage follow the below-mentioned steps carefully:
- Put on leather gloves and lay the mesh down on a flat surface.
- Stack it with cinder blocks in a crate, and unroll it a little.
- Springiness is essential in mesh.
- Wrap the mesh around a cinder block and a second crate, then unroll it to about 8′ long.
- At the end of the eleventh 6″ square, use a bolt cutter to cut the thread through.
- Remove each crate from the stack. Pull the end away from the cut edge so that the tubes are 18″ in diameter.
- You can continue folding and crimping the tube after the protruding prongs have been folded and crimped onto the tube.
- To create the perfect circular shape, lightly press down on the cage.
- All the steps should be repeated until 25 to 27 cages have been made from the mesh.
- Choose a planting spot and connect three to four cages with twine once you have selected it.
- A stake driven halfway into the ground at the base of each fence cage should secure the top with twine, even fewer cages per yard would be planned for the planting area.
Considerations For Choosing Best Tomato Cages
It is possible to increase tomato yield by using cages in connection with tomatoes. You should consider the tomato cage’s size and shape, its material, and assembly options when choosing a cage for your garden.
A metal tomato cage is generally made of some steel and stainless steel. However, the structure may be manufactured with metal in numerous ways, including uncoated, coated, and galvanized steel.
If the metal is not coated, it can rust and provide an unstable tomato cage. However, it is possible to provide greater weather resistance by coating metal with plastic or powder.
In addition to temperature, coated metal cages also are less likely to be damaged by accidental contact. For example, in the hot summer sun, an uncoated cage can damage ripe tomatoes if one touches them accidentally. Therefore, a wise selection is needed to build a tomato cage.
To get the best results, you’ll need the right cage. There are three main types of cages to choose from: curved link, triangular, and ring:
(i) They can also provide better support for heavier tomato plants and stronger plants. Curved-link stakes are usually rectangular, which makes them more stable than ring-style cages. Moreover, the folding feature makes them easy to store after gardening season.
(ii) The closer spacing among the bars of the triangular cage provides more support to the tomato plant, which makes it ideal for smaller varieties of tomato.
(iii) It is ideal to combine a ring-shaped cage with a balanced tomato fertilizer to increase tomato yields.
A small tomato cage is as high as 15 inches while the largest cage reaches 72 inches. However, which type of tomato plants you plan to grow inside them will determine the appropriate size of the cage. Smaller tomato cages will be ideal for varieties like Tiny Tim.
A larger tomato cage would naturally be better suited to larger tomato plants like Beefsteak. The height of cages can also be adjusted, which makes them versatile and an ideal choice for gardeners.
The tomato cage type determines whether it comes pre-assembled or has to be assembled. Smaller cages can be assembled without tools, while larger ones must be assembled. The assembly process varies according to tomato cage type. However, small tomato cages are easy to assemble in a few steps.
Avoid These Types Of Tomato Cages
There are several different kinds of cages, and many of these types of cages do not function as well as they should. Tomatoes persist until the frost kills them, which is why they are an indeterminate process. By the time frost strikes in most climates, the plants will probably have grown to over 6 feet tall.
But, disturbingly, most of the market available cages are too small to hold the plants firmly.
Consequently, your tomatoes will fall over, eventually destroying your cages. You should refrain from purchasing cages that are far too short and make your choice based on the type of cultivar.
Pros & Cons of Tomato Cages
Cages and trellises are not perfect, so there is a mix of benefits and drawbacks to using them:
- The cages are easy to install once they are built.
- Low maintenance
- Cages are designed to last a long time.
- Pruning, pinching, or training the plant is not necessary.
- Providing shade for the fruit and preventing sunburn will be easy because there is plenty of foliage.
- In a thick canopy of leaves, the soil will be sheltered and kept moist.
- By maintaining a consistent moisture level, cracking and rot on blossom ends can be prevented.
- During the growing period of tomato plants, cages can become unsteady. As the plants can become quite large and heavy.
- In a small garden, larger cages can take up a lot of space.
- The late summer foliage makes the fruit shaded and takes longer to ripen in the cages, so it doesn’t ripen as quickly.
During the summer and spring growing seasons, it is easy to grow tomato plants, called Solanum lycopersicum, in your vegetable garden. They make a beautiful container plant for a garden because of their plump, red fruit and vine-like green branches. For your tomato crops to produce the maximum yield, you’ll need to use cages to support their weight and allow them to grow upwards. Utilizing tomato cages properly will ensure an extended harvest.
Useful Article: Basics And Benefits To Build A Drip Irrigation System