The humble wire tomato cage has much more potential than simply bracing up a rambling tomato plant. It can have other special roles in the garden.
Not long ago, I passed a stack of tomato cages in a garden center. The stack, turned upside down, made a nice grid that gave me an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment. Inspired, I took three cages home, inverted them, and trimmed the tapered end down so the wires would be flush. Then I filled the stacked cages with big rocks and topped my quick gabion with a paver stone. It made a tall plant stand that has stood solidly in my garden for more than a year and has garnered many compliments from neighbors and visitors. “Is that made out of tomato cages?” they’ll ask with a tinge of surprise. (For my step-by step instructions on making a gabion plant stand, look for Easy Garden Projects magazine.)
Yes, you can come up with fun uses for tomato cages, which are inexpensive and widely available in summer. For instance, you can transform tomato cages into elegant outdoor lighting for garden parties. For a hanging light, trim the legs from a tomato cage with wire cutters. Then wind the frame from top to bottom in wide organza ribbon. Add real or silk ivy to hide the wire grid and set the frame over a purchased hanging candleholder secured to a tree limb. Or, try arranging a string of battery-operated lights inside.
Make garden lighting one step easier. Plant your cage in the garden before the plants grow too tall. Suspend a solar-powered paper lantern from a wire attached across the top of the cage.
After the tomato plants have died back in fall, turn the cage into winter décor for your yard. Invert the cages, cinch the legs together with wire or zip ties, and wrap with strings of light.
If you have an extra tomato cage laying around, or find one so inexpensive you can’t pass it up, bring it home. Have fun and create something that will be the envy of your neighbors and have them asking, “Is that really a tomato cage?”