You can get your tomatoes (and other vegetables) into the garden earlier using a hot-house tomato cage design.

As an avid gardener, I like to challenge the frost dates and take pride in getting tomatoes out early into the garden. Each year I have red tomatoes in May. That isn't bad in my Zone.

This is an easy and inexpensive project any gardener can do.

The video provides instructions for a quick and simple design. The pictures demonstrate a slightly more complex design using a milk container as a night time heat source. They are both easy to create.

It is important to make sure you keep the top of the cages open when the day temperatures reach 70 degrees and the days are sunny or partly sunny. The hot-house cage could over heat and bake your tomato.

Tomato planting instructions can be found at my gardening blog: The Rusted Garden

Step 1: Hot-House Tomato Cage Supplies and Preparation

The supplies for this enhanced design include:

1. A tomato cage
2. Plastic wrap
3. A milk container
4. Black spray paint
5. Scissors
6. Tomato plant (but I think you knew that)

This is a modified design that allows you to get your tomato into the garden, even earlier, than the basic hot-house cage shown in the video. The main difference is that you are wrapping the hot-house tomato cage from the bottom (while in place) and you are including a radiating night time heat source.

The main preparation can be seen in the photographs. You have to spray paint the milk container black and fill it with water. Dark colors absorb heat better from the sun. The water will hold the heat from the day and radiate it out during the night, adding a few extra degrees of warmth for frost protection. The milk container should be placed next to the cage as shown in the picture. The prep-work is now done. Time to wrap.
<p>it is far easier to use a large clear leaf bag - just drop it over the cage and roll it up when its too hot</p>
What do you do afterwards with all that plastic wrap? Seems like alot of waste if you are doing many, many plants. I love the idea of getting plants out early (we live in zone 5) but to think how much waste this would generate year after year...
Hiya. You store the plastic wrapped cages in your garage. Keep them out of the sun and the plastic stays intact. Just re-use rather than rebuild.
What is yo zone, TheRustedGarden?
Im zone 7 maryland. Just took off the hot-house cage.
I used a similar set-up in Everett, WA (north of Seattle). I also lined the edges of my cold frames with jugs of water. It works really well. <br> <br>Here in north Texas there are an entirely different set of gardening challenges.
They are effective and it is fun to race neighbors for first red tomato. Im working on a jug lined plastic wrap row for beans and cucumbers. Still testing the idea.

About This Instructable




Bio: I use gardening as a way to enjoy life. I have over 250 HD garden videos on my YouTube Channel. I invite you to visit ... More »
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