Like landlines, tomato cages offer limited features and functionality. Cages are also a constant source of frustration for gardeners due to the fact that they can be:
- Made of low-quality materials
- Susceptible to rust
- Not strong enough to support tomatoes, especially indeterminate varieties that grow tall
- Bulky, not easy to store, and can be an eyesore
While cages can help keep some of the tomatoes off the ground, they confine the plant into the circumference of the cage, which can be small or large, both of which are unsuitable for your garden and the plant’s growth. A small cage will cluster all the branches together making it difficult to prune suckers or pick fruits. It also increases the chance for disease and pest infestations. A large cage is cumbersome and takes up space in your garden that could be used more efficiently.
If you share in the frustration that many other gardeners have with tomato cages, read on to learn how gardeners are shifting towards trellising to easily grow healthier and higher-yield tomato plants.
One of the biggest advantages that alternative methods have over cages is the ability to make pruning easier. Pruning is essential to the health and growth of tomatoes. As mentioned earlier, caging tomatoes limits your ability to prune the plant making it more difficult to work through the cage, thus reducing the plant’s ability to focus energy on fruit production than non-productive growth “suckers”.
Trellising tomatoes with string or using an overhead trellis will allow the tomato plant to self-trellis will little effort on your part while giving your plant better growing conditions than the hassle of a cage, making it easier to reach branches for pruning and picking the fruits of your labor.
When using the string method, which is commonly used in greenhouse operations, you simply attach string to a frame above the plant and untwine the string down to the base of the plant. Next, you can either weave around the base or clip to the base with a tomato clip. Tomato plants typically grow six inches or more every week, so maintaining them with this method is very low maintenance. Just clip or weave the string around each branch to keep it supported and the growth going up ward. Since there is no cage the entire plant will be opened up easier to prune and pick.
Overhead Trellis Method
For overhead trellising, you’ll want to use a strong mesh to support each branch. Concrete wire mesh or cattle panel work well with this method. We don't recommend using trellis netting as it is too flexible to make it worth the effort. Trellis netting is better suited for fragile vegetables like beans or cucumbers. Just like the string method, the overhead trellis will require you to move the support frame with the new growth every week. As the tomato plant grows, simply move each branch into its own square, which should be at least six inches to make it easy to fit your hand through. Once each branch is in its own square, move the support frame with the growth, which Trillix trellis system is designed to do.
We here at Trillix believe in helping gardeners upgrade their trellising abilities to more commercial style, but backyard level. It’s important to know that there are other ways than a tomato cage to trellis your tomatoes, and by using these methods you have the control to create living art and manipulate the growth of branches to go in any direction that you want - something a cage will never be able to do. Don’t limit yourself to one method that has been around for along time when other methods are just as easy to do and will yield better tomatoes, make pruning easier, and give you the ability to create living art.
Check out our trellis kit today to start trellising your tomatoes!