Tomato Cages Vs Tomato Ladders and Conserving Rain Water


We use rain water to water the garden and don't want to waste it by watering everything else. I went to Home Depot and bought a 10 foot piece of 3" rigid PVC and 3 caps to fit. I cut it into 3 foot pieces and then put a cap on one end of each of the pieces and tapped them on the ground to seat the cap tightly. You don't need any PVC glue for this.
I took my 1/8" drill bit and drilled 3 holes in the cap end of the PVC, about 1" from the end of the cap. I drilled them at an upward angle so that the water would come out down instead of up like a little fountain. I then put one tube in each tomato cage and filled the tubes with water. They work great! It's like a drip system in that the water goes right into the ground slowly at the base of the plants, it doesn't spread all over and water the mulch, and it doesn't get the leaves wet so I don't have to worry about fungus on the tomatoes.
In retrospect, I think I could have cut the tubes into 2 foot lengths and saved some money, but this was an experiment. Next year I am going to buy 2" PVC and see how that size works.
I experimented with my tomatoes this year. I have cages that I made and ladders. I made tomato ladders instead of cages for some of the tomatoes. I got the plans from another blog I subscribe to called "Survival Sherpa at SurvivalSherpa (at) gmail (dot) com." I took his ladders one step further and painted them bright colors. You still need to put in a center stake for the tomatoes to stand upright, but otherwise you use the ladders like cages. When the season is done, they fold up like regular ladders and store in the garage for the next year.
Tube ready to go.
Tubes in the tomato cages.
It was easier to show how they work by watering the marigolds surrounding the garden bed.
Tomato ladders before being painted. I made them out of poplar and pine. The ladder on the right has the brace that keep it open to the size you need it. That comes off and you can fold the ladders up.
Ladders after being painted. I have 4 of them. The 4th one is in another bed behind me.
Ladders and tubes in the garden and looking good.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 9 questions
  • Susan
    on Jun 28, 2019

    How do you keep the ladders from blowing over in a windy storm?

    • Jamaica Julie
      on May 25, 2020

      push the feet a few inches into the dirt. have also pounded 2' pieces of rebar into dirt (buy them at most building supply ctrs) at 2 kitty-corner legs of each ladder. attach with wire or rope. that ladder is going nowhere.

  • Angela
    on Aug 28, 2019

    I love this idea. I’m going to try buckets next year because it seems no matter where I plant in my yard I get blight. I’ve rotated, etc. Any tips. And should I grow from seeds instead of plants? Help!

    • Chris J
      on Aug 28, 2019

      Angela, I use plants in my garden. I let them get taller and then pick off the leaves to about 12 inches above the ground. That way when it rains, any bad spores on the ground will not splash up on your leaves. That's the advantage to my tubes. They out the water around the bottom of the plants so the water goes right into the ground. I also use Epsom salt in my garden for my peppers and tomatoes. I use 2 tablespoons per gallon of water and spray the plants until they drip. I also will add Epsom salt and ground up egg shells to give them a boost of fertilizer when i am planting them. I also plant marigolds around the plants as it keeps some varmints and bugs away. As a last resort, I cast off my "mother earth" persona and spray them with a copper based fungicide. That also takes care of the blight that gets onto my cukes and squash. Hope this helps.

  • Jamie Hyde
    on Sep 19, 2019

    Did you use any kind off dirt

    • Chris J
      on Sep 20, 2019

      Do you mean the dirt in my raised beds. The dirt in is a combination of composted manure, top soil, the "good stuff" from my compost pile, and regular dirt all mixed together and covered in 3 inches of mulch. The tubes just sit on top of that. There is no dirt inside the tubes.

Join the conversation

3 of 84 comments
  • Holly Cooley
    on Feb 13, 2020

    Looks great! Love the idea of conserving rainwater. Love the ladder idea too and the bright colors make it fun! So just to be sure I understand you fill each pvc tube with rain water and move on to the next. This sounds like a time saver as well as a water saver!! Do you find it’s much faster to get the watering done?

    • Cathy g
      on Jul 4, 2020

      we have problems out in California with mosquitoes. wonder how much standing water would be in there to attract breeding critters. how long will the water remain ? is it just for deep watering or for water storage?

  • Pat White
    on Apr 19, 2020

    My grandpa used to use old metal cans with holes poked in them. The metal attracts the electricity in the air which aids in plant growth ALONG WITH CAPTURING WATER More over , you’ve kept some cans out of the trash. Use, reuse and REUSE :). Love the thought.

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