There are just about as many ways to stake a tomato, I think, as there are to skin a cat. Do an internet search, and you’ll see exactly what I mean!
Today I am adding to the list, with the addition of two of my own rustic versions of the utilitarian tomato cage.
As you know, I’m always trying to utilize materials we’ve got laying around the homestead, and for these, I’ve decided to make use of some of the grape stakes and rusted fence wire that have been taking up extra space out back.
The first tomato cage is crafted from old grape stakes and rusted wire. ( If you’d like to make your own version, and can’t find grape stakes, I don’t see why 1″ x 1″ wooden garden stakes wouldn’t work just as well.)
To make my version, you’ll need:
four grape stakes (I found all of mine for free on Craigslist)
16 galvanized fence post nails
9 or 12 gauge fence wire
1. Lay the grape stakes out on the ground so that the tops (the flat side) all line up.
2. Take the fence post nails, and nail four into each stake at equal distances (I simply eyeballed mine). Make sure that the nails are parallel with the stake for easier threading of the wire.
3. Hammer each post into the ground, about a foot and a half apart, making the outline of a square. (I positioned mine so that the nails were all facing out on each side of the square.)
4. Cut four pieces of wire to fit around each section of the cage. (Again, I simply eyeballed it by wrapping the wire around the outside of the posts and snipping the wire when I knew it was long enough).
5. Start at the lowest level and attach the first wire by threading it through the fence nail. Then, use your pliers to bend it back on itself, creating a secure attachment.
8. Repeat steps for threading wire at remaining three levels, and you’re done!
Pretty simple, huh?
The second tomato cage is constructed from grape stakes alone. (I don’t have pictures of the entire process, but I think you’ll get the picture once you see the finished product.)
What you’ll need:
10 grape stakes
screw driver (power works best!)
long deck screws
1. Lay 4 grape stakes down on the ground so that the tops all match up, as in the first step of making the previous cage.
2. Cut remaining 6 grape stakes in half, using the hand saw.
3. Using two of the uncut grape stakes (laying them parallel on the ground about 1 1/2 feet apart) screw three of the cut stakes, perpendicularly, onto the larger grape stakes, creating the look of a ladder. (It’s best to start at the top, then work your way down, spacing them equal distance apart.)
4. Repeat step 3 with remaining uncut stake.
5. (This is where it gets a little tricky. You’ll probably need one other person to help you). Stand up the two ladder frames, equal distance apart, then start adding the remaining short pieces to the other sides to create a box. You can simply lay the pieces on top or under the ones that are already there, or fasten them in between. (I’ve done both). It helps if one person is holding the frame and applying counter pressure as the other person screws in the pieces. It is also good to pre-drill the holes. It may work better to stand it on its head, so that you are working on a more even base.
This is what it should look like when it’s finished:
It may be a little overkill, but I love that it provides structure, visual weight, and texture in the garden while I’m waiting for all the tomato plants to fill in!
They are much sturdier than the typical garden center variety, and should last for many years, providing good support for all types of tomatoes. Why don’t you build one for yourself and share your results with me?