It's about time to bust out my lovely homemade tomato cages! I've been growing tomatoes for over a decade and these things are the best supportive structures I've come across yet.
While these tomato cages are a little more obtrusive than a wooden stake, they do a great job supporting and keep the plants from flopping everywhere. Plus, they don't rot or rust, so they should last you a lifetime!
Here's how to make them:
Purchase one or more 50' rolls of welded wire fencing. They run between $30 and $60 depending on the size. You should be able to find this at most major hardware stores. The welded wire comes in different heights between 4' and 7'. I have always used the 6' height because many of my indeterminate heirloom varieties can grow to be 7' or more by the end of the season! The fencing comes with 2" by 4" holes. This size hole can be difficult to work through if you have large hands, but I think the utility of these tomato cages will make up for the inconvenience.
*Please wear long pants, closed shoes, and gloves when working with the fencing. The cut edges of the wires can be very sharp.
Lets assume we are using a 6' tall by 50' roll. Unroll the fencing as best you can. Follow the instructions in the diagram below (sorry, I went right to left, instead of left to right). Make sure you include the exposed end wires in your measurement.
Once you have all your panels, form them into cylinders and bend the exposed horizontal wires into a loop and secure around the opposite end of the panel (see below).
Your finished tomato cages should be approximately 2' in diameter, which I find perfect for two tomato plants. When you install the cages in the garden, weave a stick or a stake into the bottom part of the cage and pound into the ground to secure.
P.S. the welded wire goes on sale all the time at Menards (assuming you have one of those).
How do you support your tomatoes?