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Fall Clean Up – Cleaning Tomato Cages

With another tomato season drifting into the past, it’s time to clean up the cages and put them away for the winter.  If you are one of the fortunate few whose tomatoes were not struck with blight and plan on surviving into January, ignore this post.  For the rest of us, here’s what to do:

1) Pull off all plant debris

2) Set your tomato cages in the sun away from your growing area

3) Hose down the cages with water

4) Get your hydrogen peroxide solution (Costco sells a double pack of this 3% solution that we retrofitted with a spray nozzle)

Or you can mix up a batch of 10 to 1 water to bleach solution. I prefer not to use bleach, so it’s HP for me.

5) Spray all surfaces thoroughly, front to back, top to bottom, inside and out.  You will use a fair amount of hydrogen peroxide for this task.

Action shot – couldn’t resist

6) Leave the solution standing on the cages for a few days in the sun.

7) Store cages away for the winter.

If you live in a place where it snows, you can leave the cages out in the elements without spraying them with a solution. The cold weather usually kills off any harmful diseases.  In warmer climates though, don’t take any chances.  This will help ensure healthy tomatoes next year.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Menolly

    I am SO GLAD I found your blog, and this post. I’ve been wrecking my mind trying to find a way to disinfect my XL tomato cages (they are 6 feet tall), but also wood lattices, and giant resin planters I grow my zuchini and cukes in, on my deck. All the extensions tell you to “soak in bleach” for 10 minutes… Most gardening blogs just parrot the extensions. Which, even if I wasn’t allergic to bleach, which I am, how the hell am I supposed to “soak” four 6 feet tall cage, six 3 feet cages, three fixed wooden lattice, and four containers that are big enough to be kid pools and have tons of drainage holes? This is much, much, better, let alone DOABLE for me.

    A couple questions:

    Do you think the peroxide solution (I assume it’s 3 %) can damage my AZEC composite deck or my siding? (I’m not asking you to sign it in blood, I just want your opinion).

    How cold does it have to get to “kill” blight and powdery mildew? Cages typically get folded and remain on the deck for the winter, and planters as well, although they only get emptied and rinsed if if whatever I grew in had a disease. The only soil I change every year is what I grow my tomatoes in, because, as you stated it, some form of another of leaf fungi or tomato blight is almost impossible to avoid. The big grow bags I use for my tomatoes get a cycle or two in the washing machine to be disinfected as well.

    I live in Maryland 7A. We do get snow, but it’s not Michigan.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Christy

      Glad you found us too! Hydrogen peroxide can lighten the color of whatever it touches, since it works like bleach. So if you are concerned about staining on your deck, test an inconspicuous location first. I use it to bleach out my garden hat when it gets grubby, so it does lighten. What I’m seeing about temperatures for blight is that freezing temps will kill it, but if there is any biomass (roots, tubers left behind) in the soil harboring it, that can trigger a fresh bloom in spring after thaw. So be thorough about getting all the roots out, and you’ll have better luck.

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