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kristimama

Gurney's Tomato Cages vs. Texas Tomato Cages.

kristimama
10 years ago

I am looking for a new way to cage my 6'+ tall tomato plants this coming summer. What are the comparisons, relative selling points, of the Gurney's Tomato Cages vs The Texas Tomato cages.

Currently, I have the ring-type tomato cages (the sturdiest I could find) from my local nursery, and I take 2, stand them on end, and tie them together with plastic ties, creating about 7' of growing cage. But they are hard to store in the off season and they're starting to show their age.

I saw the whole discussion of the Earthtainers and how they all use Gurney's Pea cage, and I wondered whether the Gurney's tomato cages might work for me without much work. (All the work bending the Pea cage doesn't appeal to me.)

It does seem like I'd have to stack them to get more vertical height, which I don't mind if they are sturdy and work. What appeals to me is that they lay flat during the off season. I probably need enough for about 6 tomatoes.

Since space is an issue for me, making and storing Concrete Rebar is not an option for me. I know so many people here love them, but I really need tangible advice on the collapsible options.

Any thoughts? Gurney's Square Tomato Panes Vs the Texas Cages?

Thanks,

Kristin

Comments (36)

  • digdirt2
    10 years ago

    Is this the cage you are talking about? They are only 40" tall. Using 2 per plant could get real expensive.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato cage

  • kristimama
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Yep, that's the one. And yes, it's pricey, but not so much compared to the Texas Tomato Cages, at 6 for $159.

    Just wondering what people use, IF they need a collapsible, easy to store type of cage.

    If I had tons of yard space and a separate area I could safely store home-made rebar cages, I would.

    But I don't. And the stackable round ones are wearing out.

    Any words of wisdom?

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  • seeker11
    10 years ago

    Home-made PVC cages solved this problem for me. They are versatile, can be built to any height and width, are very easy to build, don't damage the plants, last forever, and can be easily taken apart for winter storage.
    If you're interested, send me an e-mail through gardenweb (if that's working these days), and I'll send you a picture and directions.

  • natal
    10 years ago

    I have 6 Texas Tomato Cages. Have had them for three years. Don't think I paid that much, but I really can't remember. I'm still storing them in the box they were shipped in.

    For many years I had rebar cages. They were a pain to store and rusted almost immediately. I love the TTC! They still look great.

  • digdirt2
    10 years ago

    If you only need 6 cages then you're talking $149 for enough from Gurney vs. $159 for the TT cages.

    Personally I wouldn't put that much money into either given all the other options available out there. But in this case it's basically your choice as to which you want to spend $150+ dollars on.

    You might compare the opening sizes of them both - don't know if they are both 4x4 or 6x6 or what - as that can affect how much support the plant gets from them.

    Dave

  • woodcutter2008
    10 years ago

    I bought eight of the Gurney's cages last year. They are great! They are heavy, well built, and should last many years. I bought four more this year. Of course, with Gurney's marketing methods (50% off sales) you need not pay the catalog price. They are 48" not 40" -- you need to be careful of this because Gurney's does not count the "legs" that go in the ground. Other sellers list the gross length, so from someone else 40" means 40" total.

    I considered the Texas cages, but chose the square ones from Gurney. AND to complicate your decision, Burpee now sells an even larger, taller square cage 18" square and 55" tall (IIRC). These are powder-coated and of course, pricey, but I have no doubts they are of excellent quality. With Burpee, if you "dig" a little, you can get free shipping which would ease the price burden somewhat.

    -WC2K8

  • fortyonenorth
    10 years ago

    After several years of trying various cages and techniques (e.g. weave) I bought some TTGs. I love them and have resolved to only grow as many tomatoes as I have TTGs. It's a lot of money, but you certainly won't suffer from buyer's remorse. IMO, it's a very worthwhile garden investment.

  • Ohiofem 6a/5b Southwest Ohio
    10 years ago

    I am considering Texas tomato cages for use in a 25-gallon Smart Pot that is 21 inches in diameter. Does anyone have the exact measurements of the base? In other words, what is the distance between the legs? Ive been using 8-foot plastic coated metal stakes from a big box store that tend to fall over with a tall heirloom plant full of big tomatoes. And I have to prune all but a few suckers to use a stake.

  • Donna
    10 years ago

    I bought six Texas Tomato Cages last year for $99 plus $35 shipping. They have gone up in price this year. I don't care. I am ordering six more. Over the years, I have used rebar (see natal's comments. I say Amen!), 18 inch square bean towers from Gardener's Supply (great, but 18 inches is TOO NARROW for indeterminates), and some flimsy little folding things from Lowe's which are now used for peppers and eggplants. All in all, I could have bought Texas cages several times over!

    Texas cages come 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches. The 18 inch ones would be fine for containers, but I plan to stick with the 24 inchers. I fully expect these will be the last I ever have to buy. They are very sturdy, do not rust, fold flat for storage, and are well nigh perfect. You can now get height extensions, which is a great idea, but my plants would still come out the top and the higher cage would make it very difficult for me to reach the fruit. The only other thing I could dream of asking for is if they came in bright colors, but that's just me.

  • natal
    10 years ago

    Donna, I find the 18" TTC work fine for me. This year I'll be growing all of my Sun Golds in them.

    Ohiofem, those Burpee cages look flimsy. There's no info on the material used.

  • Ohiofem 6a/5b Southwest Ohio
    10 years ago

    I am convinced the TTCs are best for my situation. If I was stronger and better at building things, I might build cages out of CRF or PVC, but Im a klutz with no tools. I found this Youtube video review of the Texas cages, which demonstrates how they work. I haven't found anything else for sale that matches it.

    Here is a link that might be useful: video review

  • natal
    10 years ago

    Let me suggest one thing if you order the TTC. I don't have room to hang them during the off-season, so I store them in the original box.

  • kristimama
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Thanks for all the info. Ugh, now I have to convince my hubby. LOL

  • johnny_tomato_seed
    10 years ago

    Kristin:

    I am in East Bay by Pleasanton area. I have 18", 24", and last year bought the 20" size. 18" definitely too small. 24" too big for 18 gallon SWC. The 20" was especially made for Yamagami's in Cupertino. There was a semi sale so I bought them, still around $150 for 6. For people in Norcal with little space, the cages are well worth it.

    If your husband need convincing why you need them, I'll send you a picture of my 9 ft plant.

  • Ohiofem 6a/5b Southwest Ohio
    10 years ago

    I would love to see that photo Johnny. Please post it. Do you ever use the extensions? On the tomatocage.com website, they are only advertising the 20- and 24- inch cages.

  • natal
    10 years ago

    Ohio, they don't make the 18" cages anymore. That's what mine are and they've worked beautifully ... even with a monster plant like Sun Gold.

  • kristimama
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Yes, Johnny Tomato Seed, please please post your picture!

    I would love to see it and I can show my DH.

    I didn't realize that TTC were ever available at retail.

    I spoke to the gal at TTC directly, and she said they discontinued the 18 and they do the 20" instead now.

    Has anyone ever tried the extensions? I read one review that the extensions aren't quite as stable?

  • woodcutter2008
    10 years ago

    > Has anyone used the Burpee XL cages? They are 18 inches square by 58 inches high. With the two foot extensions, the cost is about the same as Texas and Gurney cages. (There is no shipping charge for the Texas cages, so they may be the lowest in cost.) I haven't used them yet -- I think they are new this year. But I was impressed with the size and have never had issues with the quality of things I've bought from Burpee.

    So I bought 3 of them to try and received them today. FREE SHIPPING on my order of $50, which was easy considering the cages cost about $40. They are certainly of ROBUST construction: Upright posts (8) are .180" and the cross members (7 rows) are .148" (measured with a vernier).

    In my use, I always find it advantageous to drive one wooden stake next to the corner of the cages and tie the cage to the stake. This is cheap insurance against heavy loads and storm winds. I can't imagine anyone not being pleased with these!

    BTW, I've recycled some of my old, small square cages into "pea fencing," unhooking the ends and attaching them together to form ~6' sections. Love those Sugar Snaps!

    -WC2K8

  • natal
    10 years ago

    WC2K8, what are those Burpee cages made of? I found it strange that info wasn't provided.

  • woodcutter2008
    10 years ago

    > WC2K8, what are those Burpee cages made of? I found it strange that info wasn't provided. They are steel, and powder coated for rust resistance.

  • natal
    10 years ago

    I bought powder-coated steel fencing for my veggie garden and it started rusting from the inside out within 6 months. You should have saved your money.

  • woodcutter2008
    10 years ago

    My experience with powder coat products is evidently quite different than yours. (For me) it has been much more durable than galvanized.

    -WC2K8

  • woodcutter2008
    10 years ago

    A brief follow-up:
    After reading the Burpee catalog description that said the shorter PRO cages were made of powder coated, galvanized steel, I wondered why the XL cages would not be the same. So I contacted Burpee's customer service and they replied that the taller ones are made of the same material, then powder coated.
    -WC2K8

  • elight
    10 years ago

    Here's a link to a past post on PVC cages (with photos and diagram) that I bookmarked last summer and am planning to build for this year. Note that the diagram only provides for cages that are 3-4' tall, but you could quite easily continue the same pattern to make them taller.

    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/tomato/con0722035623819.html

    Here is a link that might be useful: PVC tomato cages

  • plainolebill22
    6 years ago

    This is an old thread but I wanted to comment on the Texas Tomato cages. I bought my first batch about 15 years ago for a lot of the same reasons other people have. Regular garden center cages aren't large or sturdy enough; at my present home I don't have space to store cages made from concrete remesh. I have tried home made pvc cages and found them wanting as well.

    To make a long story short, 15 years later the ttc are holding up well, the parts that go into the ground have rusted a little but I think they will outlast my appetite for gardening given my age of 73. My estimate for the lifetime of these cages is at least 25 years so amortizing them over that amount of time they aren't so very expensive.

  • Seysonn_ 8a-NC/HZ-7
    6 years ago

    I have a few 3-ring cages and one that I have made from CRW. But I am not for cages for some personal reasons ; Number one is the off season storage problem. For this reason, Texas Tomato cages has a clear advantage as they are foldable. The only draw back remaining is high cost. If I had access to galvanized Cattle Panel I could make my own foldable cages.


    Sey

  • Ohiofem 6a/5b Southwest Ohio
    6 years ago

    I bought six 20-inch TTCs in 2012 and six Burpee XL Pro cages when they were on sale in 2013. I use them all in 25-gallon smart pots. They both work very well. When I was setting up my cages this year, I noticed how much easier it is to set up the TTCs. The Burpee cages are getting a little bent so it's more of a struggle to unfold them. The TTCs are also a little taller. I didn't get extensions for either type, and don't think they're needed even though all the varieties I've grown get well over 6 feet tall. I saved about $40 on the Burpee cages, but I wish I'd sprung for the Texas cages. I can see that they will last a very long time. This photo shows how my garden looked in early June last year.

  • Campanula UK Z8
    6 years ago

    I am very curious about the tomato cage idea - it is something I have never heard of in the UK. Most tomato growers tend to limit their plants to one cordon type vine, removing all side shoots...unless they are bush tomatoes. Is there a reason other than cultural preference - maybe amount of sun, length of season. I know nobody who allows side shoots to develop (although of course, a few will always sneak in). I grow mine up a single cane, held in place on long timber scaffolds - 20-24 plants on each double row. I couldn't afford cages in a million years - even growing 40 plants (I like to try for 60).

  • Ohiofem 6a/5b Southwest Ohio
    6 years ago

    In my conditions, where I have to grow all my tomatoes in containers and summer temperatures are high (90 F highs) with high humidity, I get much better yields with cages than I did using stakes and pruning all suckers. It's a lot less work too since I'm not having to prune and tie every couple days. I am limited to 12 plants due to time and the cost of the cages, but they produce enough for my small household. I usually have several months worth of tomato sauce in the freezer at the end of the season. We have a lot of storms that used to knock over at least a few staked plants every summer. The cages have never been knocked over in four seasons.

  • Pete D
    6 years ago

    Has anyone tried these? Tomato cages at THD

  • Campanula UK Z8
    6 years ago

    I definitely admit to being tempted to try - it wouldn't be beyond my capabilities to knock up a circular cage using chicken wire. It is definitely growing orthodoxy here (UK) to prune back sideshoots, even when only growing a couple of plants. I think even commercial practices involve cordons - very long ones for sure but single stem nonetheless. Am wondering what the difference might be in yield and also whether it is just too damp and cool in the UK to allow full ripening? Lack of ventilation, increased fungal issues? Do you stop the plants after a certain number of trusses...or at a particular point in the growing season? I am bemused by the differences in growing in the UK and US.

  • Ohiofem 6a/5b Southwest Ohio
    6 years ago

    There are more than 300 reviews of these on Amazon.com. It's rated pretty highly, but if you read the questions and several less positive reviews, you will see that they may not be that great. I created something similar, but better IMO, by using three 8-foot stakes in a triangle with wire tying them in place every 12 inches. The Home Depot product is only 12.75 inches on a side. My setup was 18 inches on a side and much taller. The cost was similar.

  • gorbelly
    6 years ago

    Commercial growers worry about things like ease of harvest and uniformity of fruit size, and they tend to have much more intense disease pressures than hobby growers.

    People who cage generally just let the plant grow as it will. Pruning is reserved for dying or diseased leaves, aside from aggressive removal of leaves from the bottom of the plant to keep foliage away from the soil. Some people will prune off growing tips once the end of the season gets near in order to try to ripen up the fruits already on the plant before frost. Others don't bother and say it doesn't make much of a difference. Some will cut off the tops once the plant grows as tall as the cage, but others will let the vines flop over the top of the cage and continue to grow and hang down.

    Regardless, the leaves are where the plant produces the sugars and other nutrients that go into making the fruit, so there's some logic to the idea of keeping as much of the foliage as possible. Disease is what you have to weigh against that, so it's a balancing act. Length of growing season is also a consideration. Is there a point in letting a plant get huge and wild and produce a gazillion flowers and set a ton of fruit if you don't have the time for those fruit to mature before frost? Also, if you want to plant a lot of varieties but have insufficient space to let them all grow into huge, caged plants and are OK with a smaller harvest from each plant, you could prune enthusiastically and grow the plants closer together. It's really a matter of what your goals and needs are.

  • Seysonn_ 8a-NC/HZ-7
    6 years ago

    Using cages in commercial operation is not feasible for more than one reason.

    I think Florida Weave makes more sense when you grow tomatoes in long rows. In the backyard environment we can do a lot of things as the aim is not cost effectiveness.

    Cage, more than anything else, offer CONVENIENCE : Practically you can put a big sturdy cage around a plant and just for get it. Every other method (other than sprawling ) requires a lot of maintenance work.

    I do staking. And because I plant closely in several small raised beds, that is the best method in my garden.

    Sey

  • gorbelly
    6 years ago

    I find cages are awkward if you want to spray your plants effectively. I'm trying a trellis type thing this year to see how it works for me.