These wood tomato cages are easy to build and provide excellent support for growing tomato vines. Using cages also helps prevent the vines from breaking.
This is part of a series on 5 Best Tips for Growing Tomatoes.
Why We Need Tomato Cages
I have been growing tomatoes for decades, but I never invested in proper cages until recently. Why? I kept kidding myself I’d just try a few more varieties each year and then move on to other veggie adventures.
But you can’t stop. There are 15,000 choices out there and each is more intriguing than the next.
There are two basic types of tomato plants: bush (determinates) and vine (indeterminates).
Most bush tomatoes (determinates) can usually cope without support, but it’s the ever-growing vines (indeterminates) that truly benefit from some surrounding structure. A good cage or other support system allows you to train the plant and avoid accidental stem breakage.
You can use the cage in the ground or on top of a same-size container. I use them for a variety of climbing plants as well as tomato vines.
Related: Tomato Growing for Beginners provides a good overview.
If you learn to rules of pruning (see How to Prune Tomatoes and the Sucker Myth), and provide a cage, your tomato plant has its best chance of providing maximum healthy fruit.
These cages are made from wood but there are also excellent options for building tomato cages from wire panels (aka hog or cattle panels) sold at farm supply stores. I haven’t tried this simply because they are large (4×8 or 4×16 feet) and I have no way of transporting them home from the store.
This is a good reference if you want all your tomato growing info in one place:
Epic Tomatoes | Amazon
Savor your best tomato harvest ever! Craig LeHoullier provides everything a tomato enthusiast needs to know about growing more than 200 varieties of tomatoes, from planting to cultivating and collecting seeds at the end of the season. He also offers a comprehensive guide to various pests and tomato diseases, explaining how best to avoid them. With beautiful photographs and intriguing tomato profiles throughout, Epic Tomatoes celebrates one of the most versatile and delicious crops in your garden.
How to Make Tomato Cages from Wood
Supplies and Materials
These cages are 5-feet tall and 18-inches wide. This size suits the usual height my tomatoes reach by the end of the growing season (6-feet).
The width is also right for fitting around tomatoes planted in 14-inch diameter pots.
I always suggest working with the available lumber size so there are not wasteful off-cuts.
TIP: You may prefer to paint or stain the wood prior to assembly and then just touch it up when done.
See what you can get at your local lumber store. It may be pressure-treated or untreated.
For this project I used untreated spruce strapping. It’s inexpensive (good) but prone to twisting and warping unless stored properly before building. It’s fine once it’s screwed in place.
(4) 2x2x60-inches (2×2 lumber cut at 5-feet long)(16) 1x2x18-inches (1×2 lumber cut at 18-inches long)Hardware & Tools
If you have a nailer, use that instead of deck screws.
(36) 2-inch deck screwsDrill bit for predrilling holesScrewdriverElectric drillPencilMeasuring TapeSawSandpaper / sander (optional)Wood stain / paintPaint brush
(4) 2x2x60-inches (2×2 lumber cut at 5-feet long)(16) 1x2x18-inches (1×2 lumber cut at 18-inches long)2Assemble the Two Main Rails
Each main rail has two 2x2x60-inch pieces and four 1x2x18-inch pieces.
The horizontal rails will extend passed the 2x2s to allow room for the side rails.
The easy way to measure the placement is to use a piece of 1×2 as your measure (see ‘temporary wood spacer’ in photo):
Always predrill your holes so the screws will not split the wood.
Attach the top rail first.
The top edge of the second rail is positioned 14.25-inches below the lower side of the top rail.
The top edge of the third rail is positioned 14.25-inches below the lower side of the second rail.
The top edge of the lowest rail is positioned 14.25-inches below the lower side of the third rail.
3Attach Side Rails
Attach side rails to two main sections.
Use of the wood spacer for the main rails left a nice spot to add the side rails:
Attach the top side rail first. Then the bottom rail. Then the other two.
Here’s another view of the construction:
4Paint or Stain
I like using a cheerful paint or stain color that contrasts with the tomato plants. This makes it easier for pruning (read about pruning tomatoes here) and adds some zing to the garden.
Here’s one in light green:
These cages are very sturdy, and the wood rails allow the use of additional wood or twine to further secure the tomato plants as needed.
When not needed for tomatoes, they work as supports for numerous other vining plants in the garden as well.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How to Build a Wooden Tomato Cage
Easy beginner project for making support cages for vining tomatoes.
Steps2 hrsTotal Time2 hrs
Author: Melissa J. Will
Supplies & Materials4 60-inch 2×2 lumber for support posts16 18-inch 1×2 lumber for cross posts36 2-inch Deck screws or nailer
InstructionsCut lumber(4) 2x2x60-inches (2×2 lumber cut at 5-feet long)(16) 1x2x18-inches (1×2 lumber cut at 18-inches long) Assemble the Two Main Rails