This homemade tomato cage is easy to make, inexpensive, and has the added benefit of being foldable for easy storage at the end of the growing season. Althought the standard store-bought wire tomato cages work well, they take up quite a bit of storage space. Making your own foldable tomato cage is easy, even for a beginner.
The plans for the tomato cage came from a book titled The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects (on Amazon) by Spike Carlsen. There are 76 projects in the book but the tomato cage is the only one we've tried so far. It was quick, simple, inexpensive, and . . . it's collapsible. The only changes made to the original design was to extend the length on the top of the stakes and eliminate one of the rungs of wire. The overall length of the tomato cage is a bit longer due to the sandy nature of our soil. The image below shows the page from the book and the finished tomato cage.
The stakes are cut from three eight-foot 1 x 2s. You might be able to use 1 x 3s, but lumber any wider than that will make it more difficult to bend the wire into a circle. It's best to cut the pointy end of the 1 x 2 stake first, then line up the pieces and cut them to length. Our stakes are just over five feet long, but if you have clay or loamy soil you can probably make them much shorter. The holes for the suppoprt wire needs to line up fairly close and the easiest way to do that is by lining up the tops of the stakes, holding the pieces together with a quick release clamp (Amazon), then drilling the holes through all three pieces at once. The rungs are spaced 12" apart which is the same spacing as the standard store-bought wire tomato cages.
The images below show the 1 x 2 stakes, the stakes clamped together prior to drilling the holes for the wire, and the ends of the wire taped together.
The wire for the tomato cages is Number 9 wire (Amazon) that's sometimes used with row cover. The book recommended a 45" length of wire for each rung, but I just made it the same diameter as the wire tomato cages and added about 12" to the overall length in order to twist the ends of wire together. The ends of the wire are taped together just because, but that's probably not necessary. The book suggested four rungs, but our store-bought tomato cages only have three rungs and they've always offered good support, but you may need four rungs depending on which toamto variety you're planting.
The folding tomato cages will be used in addition to the store-bought cages for a couple of growing seasons, and if they work well, may take the place of the store-bought cages altogether. They're easy and inexpesive to make and the space saving aspect is a definite plus.