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Large tomato cages

Ernie Balch


Joined: Apr 15, 2012
Posts: 4
We had problems getting tomato cages big enough until I found a book on growing world record tomatoes. The guy took concrete reinforcement mesh 5'x10' sections and rolled them up making a cage that is 5' high and 3' across. He the stacked the cages up for his 39' high plants.

We only stack to get 10' high cages because our tomatoes only get about 10 or 11 feet tall. The cages have been in use for 10 years and will last as long as we will be gardening.

ernie
gani et se


Joined: Apr 24, 2011
Posts: 210
Location: Douglas County OR
    
    1
I think that for 39 foot plants, I'd look at espalier. Trellis them sideways; who wants to use a fruit ladder to harvest tomatoes?


Intermountain (Cascades and Coast range) oak savannah, 550 - 600 ft elevation. USDA zone 7a. Arid summers, soggy winters
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 319
    
    1
gani et se wrote:I think that for 39 foot plants, I'd look at espalier. Trellis them sideways; who wants to use a fruit ladder to harvest tomatoes?


Brilliant! I don't grow them 39' tall but they do get to big for the 5' cages and I have been stacking wire ring type cages on top upside down
so I have something to tie them to. I have the type cages described and they have been in action for pushing 20 years. I just don't have enough
of the 5' cages to stack two for all the tomatoes I am trying to grow. I may try that too.

Espalier would work in some situations I have and not in others but I will give it a shot this year. It will be a way to formalize what usually happens
when the tomato plants and beans run together. My black cherry tomatoes ran all down the bean trellis.


[Thumbnail for IMG_1589.JPG]

Ernie Balch


Joined: Apr 15, 2012
Posts: 4
Tomatoes can do quite well with the cages. Years when everyone in the area lost their plants to some fungal disease we noticed that the bottom 3 feet lost their leaves but the top 7 foot of plants continued to give lots of tomatoes.



Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 319
    
    1
We are going to have to take your word for it that you even have cages because they are totally
obscured by the plants! I can't wait for the tomatoes to start coming in again. It is right ahead of us.

My problem with the espalier suggestion mentioned is deer nibbling on anything on my fences. If that
is not an issue running them horizontally along a fence would make for easy picking.
Ernie Balch


Joined: Apr 15, 2012
Posts: 4
Ok this shows the cages not long after planting:



You can see the barrels where I collect water from the roof.
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 319
    
    1
What is your watering system? How often do you fill up those upturned plastic jugs or is that a trade
secret?
Ernie Balch


Joined: Apr 15, 2012
Posts: 4
The 2 barrels in this picture are hooked together with a plastic pipe, so that as the 1 barrel with the pipe from the roof fills, it overflows into the other.
We have faucets in the bottom to hook up a hose, and let gravity do its thing. I water about once a week, I fill the jugs 1 or 2 times, and run the hose underneath
the plastic to get the entire area wet. Generally each plant gets 1 gallon per week. The plastic holds the moisture in and stops weeds from growing. I do poke holes in the plastic to let rain water in.
I use a raise bed with the top edge of the dirt higher than the rest of the bed so that the water won't run off the bed into the path way. The pathways are lined with old carpet-- it holds down
the plastic, keeps my feet clean, lets water in and stops weeds from growing.

Most of my rain barrels are not hooked together. I have a 50 gallon drum under each downspout. Then there are 4 or 5 standing next to each downspout. I have a small $79 portable
sump pump I use for pumping the water out of the collection barrel into the other ones. For watering- I use the sump pump and a long hose to pump the water to the garden. Sometimes
I will get it started, then unplug the pump and let is siphon out (it is a slower stream).


Diane
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 319
    
    1
You are growing a lot of tomatoes in a compact area. There is a lot to like about
your tomato growing operation. Thanks for sharing!
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 319
    
    1
gani et se wrote:I think that for 39 foot plants, I'd look at espalier. Trellis them sideways; who wants to use a fruit ladder to harvest tomatoes?



I had gotten stuck in a rut and you helped me use my noggin. The attached photo shows a black cherry
tomato plant that I have running sideways in both directions on a section of my garden fence. The photo
shows that it has gotten away from me a little here in late Sept. but I can still get around in my paths good
enough. This has become a favorite variety of mine for flavor, plant health and massive productivity. Tying it
up sideways is working very nicely where before it got loose in my bean trellis and took it over.


[Thumbnail for IMG_1700.JPG]

 
 
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