How to Make Tomato Cages Out of Rebar: It’s Not a Cage, It’s a Supporting System!

How to Make Tomato Cages Out of Rebar

Just as your teenagers need their personal space, your tomato babies need their own sufficient and safe growing space. So on this occasion, I shall teach you how to make tomato cages out of rebar so your tomatoes can grow optimally!

Like peppers and cucumbers from the same nightshade family (Solanaceae), tomatoes love to crawl around. They will grow wild and can sprawl outside their garden beds when we plant these creepers without proper pruning, training, or support. We do not want them destroying other plants while destroying themselves in the process by attracting pests and diseases.

When talking about the support types, we can always buy the readily-made ones from the gardening store. However, they are often set in a certain way that might not fulfill the needs of our tomatoes. What would be the best design for our tomato support? Can we build our own DIY heavy-duty tomato cages? How to make tomato cages out of rebar?

Let’s explore these questions and get to know what these little creepers actually need and want! 

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#1 Tomato Growth

Firstly, we need to understand the different characteristics of tomato growth. They are typically referred to as determinate and indeterminate. You may notice these terms on your seeds package. The determinate tomato typically takes up a bush-like appearance, while the latter looks more like a vine. 

Bush tomatoes are the smaller variety that would not grow past 4 to 5 feet tall. They are called the bush because there is almost no addition in length in their growing time. The bush tomatoes take up to 2 weeks until we can harvest the first flush of fixed-size tomatoes. After that growth spurt, they will continue to regress with little to no fruit.

How to Make Tomato Cages Out of Rebar

Differently, vine tomatoes continue to grow longer and longer, sometimes 6 feet or even taller. The indeterminate tomatoes will have slow ripe with less fruit yield in one harvest. However, it will supply the gardeners with a repeated harvest until the plant stops growing in winter.

Each of them requires a different support type. Because determinate ones are bushy, they have a stronger stem compared to the next variety. It means the supporting system isn’t as necessary for them as for the vine-y type. Moreover, they can grow fine within a container since they don’t take up too much space. However, the indeterminate ones will need strong support that allows them to go wild.

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#2 Why CAGING?

A proper supporting system should be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the fruits and the wind while allowing them to grow freely. There are various methods of supporting tomatoes. Staking, fencing, The Florida Weave, or trellis, to name some. For this discussion, we will focus more on caging.

We specifically choose tomato cage because it has a way more hands-off approach than the other supporting methods. There won’t be any pruning or training of the plants for maintenance. The only work we will need throughout the growing time is gently tucking the branches into the cage. This is because tomatoes are not natural crawlers, so they need a little nudge toward the correct direction to grow.

Another reason for creating a cage is that it will provide enough shade that benefits the fruit and the soil. The foliage will shield the fruits from sunscald while the soil retains its moisture. This will promote better health for your tomato babies!

Caging also accommodates different kinds of plants. Caging works well for both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. You may need to adjust the size and height according to the type of tomatoes you grow. Once you get bored of tomatoes, you can even repurpose them as a cage for other plants like eggplants or peppers.

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#3 How to make tomato cages out of rebar

Store-bought cages are often flimsy and can easily fall over under the weight of the plants. Sometimes they don’t measure up to our garden size, so they could be too large or too small. Another important part that might be hit-or-miss with readily-made cages is the grid size. Gardeners need a proper grid size that allows them to sneak their hands into the cage to harvest the fruits.

For these reasons, the reinforcing bar is a perfect fit to create the cage. It is good enough for building structures, so why not for plants? Besides, it is customizable and simple enough for you to make by yourself.

Let’s build!

Firstly, you will need to get your hammer, some wires to tie the rebar, wire-cutting pliers, rebar cutting machine or hacksaw, and, of course, the rebar sheets.

How to Make Tomato Cages Out of Rebar

Secondly, you want to measure, mark, and cut the rebar sheets. You will need six lengths of rebar 8 ft long, two pieces 6 ft long, and two pieces 7 ft long.

Next, you make the hoops by bending the 8-ft long rebar while leaving about 3 inches of them to overlap. We will use these extra overlap spaces to tie or weld them together. To tie them, use the wire and bind them tightly in several turns. You can also give additional binding by wrapping the ends with nylon zip-ties.

How to Make Tomato Cages Out of Rebar

In between, you will want to prep the tomato planting soil. Add in the compost and aerator as needed. Mix the added nutrients nicely by watering the soil down. Watering before planting is unskippable, especially if you live in a hot and dry area. Moisturized soil is a must for every plant. 

After that, it’s time to plant the cages. You will want to hammer the 7-ft rebar pieces into the tomato planting ground. Make sure to give them about 30 inches gap in between. 

Continue by sliding the hoops over these two sturdy outer poles. Wire each of them to the poles. Then install the 6-ft rebars inside the cage to erect it better. These 6-ft rebars will act as second support poles.

Once you are done with the cage, you can plant the tomato in the middle. 

Finally, you can scrape the rust off of the cage to make it more durable. As a last touch, paint it nice and pretty with metal paint.

Happy planting and supporting!

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