Plastic Tomato Tee Pees
Tomato TeePees are a modern variation of the Tomato cage.
They are excellent for growing determinate tomatoes, they help provide heat during cooler weather. The tomato teepee wraps around the plants, supporting them off the ground. They also contain water cells or chambers that you fill yourself. The water will heat up during the day, keeping the plants warm during cool nights or in early and late season temperatures.
This warming action promotes quicker growth and better yields. Some manufacturers claim you can plant tomatoes outdoors up to 6 weeks earlier, personally - I would not go that early - I've been doing 3-4 weeks . You can also extend your growing season several weeks further into the Autumn . They can be used on Tomatoes, Eggplants and Pepper - they would probably work on Okra and a few other plants as well, but I haven't experimented yet.
Red Tomato Tee Pees are said to work best. As is the case with Red Mulch , the red plastic reflects red light wavelengths into the tomato plants. This triggers the release of natural plant proteins that stimulate rapid growth and development.
Spiral Plant Supports
Another simpler and effective variation of the Tomato cage
Eliminates the need for tying or staking
Sturdy; can be used year after year
Plants Naturally Follow the Spiral as they Grow
Lightweight and easy to assemble
disassembles for winter storage
Anchor design keeps it upright, even in high winds
Supports most climbing or vining plants. The plant finds support by growing up through the spiral.
Spiral Plant Supports are not strong enough for robust sprawling plants, but they work very well on smaller varieties.
Square Tomato Cages
Most square tomato cages are actually four sections of mesh that form a small square.
Some have the advantage of unhooking and folding flat for winter storage.
The are also 3 sided triangular versions. Square and triangular cages will require some tying of the stems to the mesh.
My neighbor built his own years back and has them permanently implanted in his garden where he rotates with climbing plants such as pole beans. It works very well.
Tomato stakes are another option for supporting tomato plants. Stakes can be made of wood , metal or durable plastic. They should be driven into the ground 3-4 inches at the tomato plants side , one stake per plant. The tomato plant is then secured to the stake with a flexible material that will expand as the plant grows. Throughout the growing season, more ties are added for additional support . If using wooden stakes, make sure to avoid using chemically treated wood.
Drive the stakes approximately 1 foot into the ground to ensure that they will support the weight of the plant. Stakes should be installed when the plants reach about one foot tall. Adding an additional tie for every foot of plant growth is a good rule of thumb.
Conventional Tomato Cages
Conventional Tomato cages come in different styles, most are made of wire, and are cone shaped, some are round. Some cages sit on top of the ground and are anchored to the ground with a stake. Whatever variety of cage you choose, you will need to be certain that it is tall enough and strong enough. It needs to be at least 5-6 feet tall and at least 18 inches in diameter. Additionally, the wire should be strong enough to support 8-10 pounds without bending or collapsing. The cage should be installed when the tomato plant is about a foot tall. When installing the cage, make sure that it is securely anchored to the ground so that it can't blow over in high winds.