At the Organic Gardening Test Garden, tomato plants grow in heavy-duty wire cages we’ve used for years. These square, vertical columns keep our tomatoes standing tall, even when wind whips through the farm. We expect to get a few more decades of use out of our tomato cages—they’re that durable.
What’s the secret of their strength and longevity? Our cages are constructed from livestock panels—rigid, 16-foot-long fence sections, made of heavy-gauge galvanized wire and sold at farm-supply stores. The panels are designed with different sizes of openings for various types of farm animals. For this project, we chose cattle panels that are 50 inches tall with openings 8 inches by 6 inches. Panels with wider-spaced wires cost less and are easier to work with, and it’s easier to pick ripe tomatoes through the larger openings.