The art of the tomato cage

One of the most delicious (and non guilty!) pleasures of summer is biting into a sweet, juicy tomato plucked fresh off the vine right from your own edible garden. The tomato plant, botanically known as Solanum lycopersicum, is officially a fruit plant, but we treat tomatoes as vegetables in our diet.  In fact, Americans consume around 30 pounds of tomatoes per person every year! With so many different varieties and ways to serve them, it’s no wonder the tomato plant is the #1 edible plant grown in home gardens around the world.  

organic tomato varieties

Tomatoes are sprawling, vining plants. The more they can spread out, the healthier and more fruitful the plant will be.  When tomato plants are supported by a sturdy trellis they can be successfully cultivated in in-ground gardens, raised beds and patio containers.  In fact, all of our Terra Trellis designs are used as sculptural, super strong tomato supports, creating living works of functional art in edible garden. 

organic garden sunset magazine modern tomato cage

Tomato plants are fairly easy to cultivate when given the proper amount of sunlight, drainage, and care, though they can be susceptible to various diseases and pests. Making thoughtful plant pairings and utilizing informed organic gardening techniques can mitigate many of these problems.

organic tomato garden

Tomatoes and basil not only pair well in the kitchen, but their combination in the garden can repel pests like aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, and mosquitoes from the fruit. In Sunset Magazine's "Backyard Farm,"  purple basil was planted at the base of our custom Gracie Modern Arbors protecting the budding cherry tomato vines, which included varieties like Black Cherry, Isis Candy, Pink Bumble Bee, and Snow White. 

sunset magazine organic tomato garden

(photo above Thomas Story/Sunset Magazine)

The Gracie Modern Arbors in the Sunset Test Garden also function as a perennial “walk through” garden sculpture. In addition to keeping growing tomatoes off the ground, the "fruit" is kept away from ground moisture and pests, and is able to climb higher up where they are all the easier to pick and taste!

sunset magazine tomato organic garden

(photo above Thomas Story/Sunset Magazine)

There are hundreds of tomato varieties that range from tiny, sweet currant tomatoes (delightful in salads) to meaty beefsteaks (perfect for BLTs). Dozens of sizes, colors, and textures can be found to fit almost any taste and climate. Cherry tomatoes are exceedingly easy to grow and will yield their sweet round fruit all season — popular varieties include Sweet Million, SunSugar, and Black Cherry. Heirloom tomatoes have gained popularity in recent years and are often grown in home gardens for their taste, interest, or disease resistant qualities.

Terra Trellis Geo Tomato Cage modern tomato cage organic garden

Our Geo Tomato Cage is, of course, an excellent and versatile support system for tomatoes, although many of our trellises work well with these and other vining plants. Surrounded by eggplant and more basil, our Toki Bubble trellises function as artful, sturdy tomato cages in the Sunset Test Gardens in Sonoma.

Our Ina Wall Trellises can provide a support system in even the smallest garden spaces, while gardeners with the luxury to spread out might consider our Akoris Garden Tuteur or Annabel Tipi to train their tomatoes on.

modern organic tomato garden trellis

Tomato lovers with our without a garden can also get in on the fun: On the west coast, there’s Tomatomania, (the “tomato freaks Woodstock” according to the New York Times). This year’s festival was held this spring at Cornerstone Sonoma. You can find more tomato festivals near you here.

fresh organic tomato tart

Once your tomatoes are flourishing and ready to be harvested, then comes the fun (and most delicious) part. Store picked tomatoes stem side down and never ever keep them in the refrigerator — it will ruin their texture and taste. Use them in recipes that showcase their fresh flavor, like a fresh tomato tart or vegetable frittata. If you’ve got more juicy goodness than you can eat, try drying them, canning them, making salsa, or even simply preserving them. That little taste of summer will be so gratifying come winter.

sunset tomato toki

(photo above Thomas Story/Sunset Magazine)

And any of our sturdy trellis options are a much more appealing alternative to the flimsy mass-produced tomato cages found in typical garden centers which inevitably bend, fall over, and become unsightly in the garden. Integrating any one of our Terra Trellis designs is a creative, modern alternative to the conventional tomato cage, providing year-round sculptural structure, color and symmetry to a veggie garden.

Tomatoes require a support system, so why not make it one that is structurally sound and perennially beautiful?

colorful strong modern tomato cage



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