I’m done with tomato cages. Forever.
Every year I’d buy a few more because the old ones were wearing out.
Every year I’d try my hardest to keep a growing tomato plant inside them.
Oh sure, they looked nice all lined up, or in a grid pattern. But honestly, I would often get frustrated with them. And I absolutely hated pulling the smelly frozen vines off of them after they froze. Pulling them out of the ground when we were done often had to wait until the next year once the ground was frozen.
Some of them were strong enough to hold up the sleeping bags and thick blankets that I’d drape over them as fall approached. Some of them weren’t.
I was ready for something new.
So in true homesteader fashion, The Farmer got to work for me. In roughly half an hour, he came up with this tomato planter.
You may not think it’s beautiful, but I sure do.
All this wood is leftover from other projects. The base of it is made from corral wood left over from the chicken coop we made last year. They are about 5 feet in length. He then used 2 x 4’s for the vertical supports and overheads.
I didn’t necessarily need it to be a raised bed, but it just turned out this way. Since the garden is rotated with the chickens every year, I needed something that was easy to pick up and move to the side I’m planting.
I’ve got 12 of my tomato plants in it right now. There are four under each overhead.
Once tomatoes start forming on each plant, I’m using baling twine to carefully tie to each plant, and then tie it up to the overhead so it stays nice and tall. They are tied loosely so that as they grow bigger, I’ll shorten the baling twine. The goal is to keep it as straight and tall as I can.
I like this setup as it allows me easy access to the plants. I’m able to trim the suckers and get to the tomatoes pretty easy.
Last year I lost 30 tomato plants in a 15 minute hail storm. It’s sure changed our diet this last year not to have any tomato sauces. The plan right now is to use some hardware cloth (left over from making a water pump screen from one of our wheat fields), to put over the top. It won’t stop any sideways hail, but the planter is only a foot away from the deer fence, which I let the weeds grow up around, so there will be some protection on one side.
I also love how hefty this structure is. When fall comes, I’ll be able to throw a couple sleeping bags over the top and won’t have to worry about it collapsing onto the plants.
Overall, I’m very excited. I just need to find enough scraps to build one or two more now…