Rupurposing tomato cages in the garden
Giant stacks of tomato cages grace garden center floors every year, supposedly for growing tomatoes. But gardeners are a creative lot, and when you’re not using them for their intended purpose, there are plenty of uses for these handy frames — and they don’t involve tomatoes at all! So don’t just stash that tomato cage in the garage at the end of the summer or throw it away if you don’t grow tomatoes anymore. I bet you can think of a thousand things to do with it! Scroll on for some ideas for repurposing tomato cages!
Deter critters with tomato cages
- Create a temporary shield with a cut-down tomato cage and twine strung on the top rung, as shown in the photo, to keep pets from smashing or running over emerging plants in spring.
- Twine or monofilament strung on the cage can also discourage deer looking for tender new foliage.
- To deter rabbits from doing serious damage to dormant plants in the winter, stack several tomato cages together with the wires offset to make the openings smaller and you can rabbit-proof a favorite plant.
- A tomato cage wrapped with row cover or fine-mesh netting is also a good way to keep unwanted insect pests from destroying your vegetable crop.
Protect plants from temperatures
- Cover a tomato cage with row cover or landscape fabric to keep new, frail plants from getting nipped by a late frost. The cage keeps the fabric from weighing down delicate sprouts. The white row cover in the photo allows light to penetrate to the plants when day temps are so chilly that you need to leave the cover on.
- Create a mini-greenhouse in early spring to warm the soil and protect new seedlings or transplants from the chill by wrapping a tomato cage with clear plastic: Bend the wires on one side flat and lay the frame down horizontally over a row of seedlings with plastic on the rounded side.
- A tomato cage can help support sheets used to temporarily cover plants that might not survive an early frost in the fall.
- Prep rose bushes and other tender perennials for winter by encircling them with a pair of tomato cages nested together with the wires offset. Then stuff leaves or mulch inside as insulation. The cages will help prevent insulating materials from blowing away.
Support other plants with tomato cages
- In a container, they give black-eyed Susan vine and other twining flowers a place to climb, or help the dahlia in the photo stand tall.
- Support vining veggies like cucumbers or peas on tomato cages.
- Zip tie several together in a row to form a screen or “hedge” of morning glory vines in a flower bed.
- Cut off the bottom rung to make a supportive ring that will keep pretty peony blooms from flattening to the ground after a hard rain.
- Taller plants, such as asters, can be held together with a tomato cage all season, with the frame virtually disappearing into the foliage by the time they bloom in the fall.
- Find out how to stake tall flowers the easy way by laying a tomato cage on it's side.
- Lay a tomato cage on its side over low-growing, spreading plants like cranesbill to lend support and height while allowing them to sprawl.
Repurpose tomato cages into a holiday decoration
- A tomato cage’s cone shape makes you think of Christmas trees. And there’s no end to the kinds you can make! This one pictured here is made with wired holiday ribbon and shatterproof ornaments. To anchor the tomato cage to the container, attach a bungee cord to the bottom rung of the cage and weigh it down with a landscape paver or brick.
- Make a Halloween ghost on an upside-down tomato cage with a foam ball stuck to the tines and white cloth draped around the frame. A set of white lights underneath will make it glow.
- Wind grapevine garland around the cage, lay it on its side, bend the peaked end up and add dried leaves, bittersweet and gourds for a pretty fall cornucopia.