Bamboo tomato trellis/"cage" - pretty, easy to build and very cheap. This trellis has a natural look that will add a fun aesthetic element to your garden. This is a great alternative to traditional tomato cages which typically run $12 each.
Your tomato plants need to have a trellis/cage for support - otherwise your plants will rest on the ground and your tomatoes will rot.
This project is very "green" - bamboo is a plant that grows very quickly and is invasive in NC - you don't have to feel guilty about cutting it down! The twine is compostable, and the bamboo stalks, if stored inside over the winter, can be used for a few seasons.
The only thing you have to buy is the twine a few dollars/roll.
Step 1: Harvest Bamboo
I live in NC and bamboo abounds - many of my neighbors have an endless supply of unwanted bamboo growing in their yards. I spread the word and acquired approximately 40 stalks between 6-24 feet in length (for free!).
use a saw to cut down the bamboo near its base. Then, saw off all branches so that you have a straight pole remaining.
Next - be sure to put allow your bamboo to dry out (to prevent it from growing in your garden) by leaving the stalks raised above the ground for a few weeks*.
*This is our first time using bamboo for this purpose - we didn't not allow the bamboo to dry thoroughly because the tomatoes were desperate for support. I'm hoping that since we're only keeping the stalks in the ground for the season that we won't run into the problem of having the bamboo grow in the garden.
Step 2: Place Support Poles
My bed is 4' x 10' - I have three poles placed along the short ends, and three along the longer ends. Strategically place your poles so that they are near your tomato plants. The poles should be at least six feet tall that you use as support beams.
Step 3: Hammer in Support Poles
Use a sledge hammer to drive in your support poles. Mine go through the raised bed and are probably 3-5 inches into the ground below. I am going to be removing these at the end of the season (and I will store the poles for next year), so I was not to worried about them being extremely sturdy.
Step 4: Tie on Cross Beams
I used natural twine (purchased at Home Depot - my only expense on this project) to tie the supplementary horizontal support beams to the vertical poles. I am not a not master - I took approximately three feet of twine and did a variety of cross wraps to secure each joint.
The first round of horizontal poles should be approximately 6 inches above the ground. Each successive round of horizontal poles is 6-8 inches above the pole below it.
Step 5: Continue Placing Horizontal Poles, at Least Three Layers
Continue to place the horizontal poles. As you can see below, I've created a star-shaped pattern. This gives each plant a nearby pole to lean on. When necessary, i've tied some wayward plants loosely to the nearest support beam.
At this point in the growth of the plants I've created there layers of horizontal poles, but I expect to add more as the plants continue to grow. If you can't tell from the picture below, I have horizontal poles going around the perimeter of the bed, one pole extends across the middle, and two are on the diagonal.
Be sure to saw off an extra bamboo that extends past your bed (for safety). Either use a trusty saw - or your trusty pooch.
The garden in the pictures is the Duke Community Garden at Duke University - a garden managed by undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, please check out: