Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Choosing A Tomato Cage

So you have your tomatoes planted and they are starting to grow now that the weather is getting warmer. It is time to put a tomato cage around the tomato plants. This will benefit them by  keeping the plant in a contained area and not taking over the whole garden, but also to keep the fruit off the ground. I have found from experience that fruit touching the ground will have worms and other bugs attack it. When they are kept growing upwards the bugs have a more difficult time finding and eating your tomatoes.
How the tomato cage was shipped and can be stored.
If you've grown tomatoes in the past you more than likely purchased a tomato cage from the local garden center for a few dollars. You know the kind I am talking about, made of metal but very flimsy. Then the tomato plant grows and crushes the tomato cage. Year after year you buy and throw them away. If you have not had this happen I am telling you now: don't bother. I am not even going to spend time comparing them to these other tomato cages. Spending a little bit more will save you money in the long run.
I have 3 types of tomato cages I want to share with you. Each have slightly different features I will highlight so you can decide for yourself.
     The first one was given me to try out from Avant Garden Decor. Before receiving it, I hadn't used nor seen this type of tomato cage. It's made of plastic, but seems to be quite sturdy. It comes all apart but is simple to put together.That's a good thing because at the end of the year, you can take it apart for storage. *Very nice feature.* When put together, it forms a triangular shape. The rungs on it are movable, so you can move them up or down depending on where the tomato needs support. I have never had this option before and am looking forward to how I utilize it. It is very narrow and is supposed to support the main stem more than the traditional tomato cages. My tomato plant is not yet big enough to see how this works. Over all, it seems like a very nice product, and for the price it is worth the investment.

    The second tomato cage is a metal, collapsible design. This is nice because it can collapse to be flat for storage, but will still take up more space than the first one. When set up it forms a large square. The metal is very sturdy and we have used them for many years now, and have not had any bend or distort. The rungs are stationary but have worked well enough for me so far. Great option for the price also.

    The third is the most pricey of them all but is made of VERY heavy metal. It's in the form of a circle and is not collapsible. It takes up as much space for storage as it dose in the garden. It is plenty tall and wide to fit the biggest of tomato plants. Nothing is movable on this tomato cage but that hasn't been a problem for me, I simply train the vines to grow on the supports. The only thing that might cause damage to this tomato cage is the paint chipping off, causing the metal to rust. It's a very sturdy cage and will hold up to the most heavily laden tomato vines. They were purchased from a local garden center and cost around $18 a few years ago. 
There are other options for trellising your tomatoes but for determinate tomato plants, cages are the best and easiest option. If you plan to keep gardening for years to come make the small investment for a better tomato cage.  You can come back to thank me later.
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Happy Gardening!

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