by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law
One of the good things you can do to increase your tomato yield is to cage your tomatoes. This will allow you to obtain more tomatoes in a given area of your garden. The cages supply needed support for intense growing.
Try to avoid the traditional small tomato cages. Yes, I know they are cheap, but they will limit production. The bigger version of the traditional tomato cage is ok.
Even better is a homemade tomato cage from wire fencing. A 6 to 7 foot length will yield a tomato cage a little larger than two feet in diameter. Be sure the mesh has 6 inch grids. You need to get your hand in the hole and get the tomatoes out! Four to five feet in height is fine, but one can go even higher. Use rebar to anchor the cages or 12" tent stakes.
I also recommend you wrap the tomato cages in freeze cloth in the spring. Use old-fashioned clothes pins to hold the cloth in place. Freeze cloth will allow some light in and keep most wind out. Wind is a hazard to young tomato plants because it dries them out and stresses them. The freeze cloth will also help keep insects out. Be sure the cloth spreads out on the bottom so wind can't drive up through a gap at the bottom. Use mulch to cover the freeze cloth at the bottom.
Also, if low temperatures are expected, close off the top and you will have low temperature protection at night. Don't forget to open up the cloth in the morning.
Remove the cloth when leaves touch all the sides of the cloth or when all danger of frost has passed.
Last revised March 8, 1998
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