Posts Tagged With: Todd’s Tomato Ladders

Email Re: Todd’s Tomato Ladders

[Editor’s Note: MI Patriot sent in a few pics of his version of our tomato ladders. Nicely done, MI Patriot! Appreciate you sharing with us.]

Hi Todd,

I am one of your followers Survival Sherpa. I wanted to post a couple of pictures of your ladders and what I did to take them one step further, but don’t know how to post pictures in the comments section.

We have a side garden with three 8′ x 4′ raised beds. Using lattice and furring strips, we’ve managed to plant quite a lot of stuff. The pictures that are attached are your ladders. The poles that are in the very back are our purple and green pole beans. The lattice way to the left is our crop of blackberries, and the wire fenced area is where the beans, peppers, and our cherry tomatoes are. We had to fence because the rabbits ate half my beans. Also in there is our herb garden and our bee balm in one of the other pictures.

If there is a secret to posting pictures in the comments section, I haven’t figured it out, so that is why I am sending you an email. [If any of you could help in matter, please let us know.]

I read about DRG and her cancer. I’m glad she’s come through it with flying colors. My mom got colon cancer when she was in her 70s and has been cancer free for the past 15 years. – MI Patriot

Todd's Tomato Ladders in primary colors

Primary colored tomato ladders


MI Patriot ladders

MI Patriot ladders 2


[If you’ve got DiY Preparedness Projects and/or pictures you’d like to share, please send them to me via email and we’ll try to get them posted. survivalsherpa (at) gmail (dot) com]


Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Gardening | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Todd’s Tomato Ladders: No More Lame Cages

by Todd Walker

Dirt Road Girl wanted something substantial to cage her tomatoes in our front yard. She hates those flimsy wire cages. Our backyard is full shade. We followed the sun and started food-scaping the font yard. There’s sunshine 8 hours a day out front.

She wanted something functional, sturdy, and of course, homemade. I made rolled wire cages last year from fencing. One problem with these cages was that they blew over during summer storms – even after staking them down in the container. We needed something anchored into the ground.

We had an old wooden ladder by my shop. I suggested we use it as a ‘cage.’

“That’ll work!”

Here’s what she came up with… for me to do!

Tomato ladder

Todd’s Tomato Ladder is not your typical tomato cage.

After a quick search online, she drew inspiration from Mother Earth News – Woody’s Folding Tomato Cages.

Keep in mind that these tomato ladders are going in our front yard. I printed Woody’s plans, gather lumber, and set to building. He calls for using 8 foot 1×3 lumber for the legs. I go to work.

8 foot is 2 feet shy of a regulation basketball goal.

8 foot tomato ladders are 2 feet shy of a regulation basketball goal.

It never occurs to me that erecting two “twin tower” tomato ladders in our front yard might draw neighbor’s ire. We try to fly under the radar as much as possible in our front yard food-scaping. These 8 footers would work in the country or a backyard.

I quickly build two of these bad boys, set them over the containers, and think, “wow, those sure are high.”

Painting your house, Walker?

Painting your house, Walker?

They lasted about a week after we noticed neighbors walking by with thought bubbles over their heads…

“What are they up to this year!?!”

Back to the drawing board.

I needed to shrink Woody’s plans.

Here’s the plan if you want to build our 6 foot model.

Bill of Material

Use non-pressure treated lumber to keep chemicals from leaching into your plants.

Four 1 x 3 boards 8 feet long

Two 1 x 2 boards 8 feet long

10 1/2 inch piece of 2 x 4 lumber

About 40-50 1 5/8 inch screws (I use star drive decking screws. It’s my personal mission to convert everyone to superior star drive screws)

Four 3 inch decking screws (2 will be used to attach the 2 x 4 to the legs – 2 will be used to attach the base of the legs to ground stakes)

Tools List

Circular Saw – If you’ve got a miter saw, it makes quick work of the cutting chores. But a circular saw will do the job.

Drill/Impact Driver

Hammer (for driving anchor stakes in the ground)

1/8 inch drill bit

Tape measure


Skill Level


Time Needed

30 minutes per ladder (that’s a generous estimate)

Cut List

1. Cut four 1 x 3’s six-foot long.

2. Cut one piece of 2 x 4 scrap 10 1/2 inches long.

3. Cut the 1 x 2’s for the rungs of the inside legs – working from the bottom of the ladder to the top: 19 1/2 inches, 17 1//4 inches, 15 1/2 inches, 13 3/4 inches, and 12 1/4 inches.

4. Cut the 1 x 2’s for the rungs of the outside legs – working from the bottom to the top: 21 inches, 19 inches, 17 inches, 15 1/4, and 13 3/4.

5. Cut two 1 x 3’s twenty inches long (use the extra two feet cut from the leg pieces). These will be the cross braces on the legs.

Putting it all together

If you don’t want to cut all your material ahead of time, that’s perfectly fine. Pre-cutting will streamline your build and save time.

Step 1: Stack two of the 6 foot 1 x 3 inch legs with the ends flush. Drill a pilot hole through one end of the boards with  the 1/8th inch drill bit in the center of the 1 x 3 about 3/4 of an inch from the end of the board. This is where you will insert a 3 inch screw into the piece of the 2 x 4 in a moment. Repeat the process with the two remaining  6 foot 1 x 3 legs.

Step 2: With two of the legs stacked flush, screw a three-inch screw through the pilot hole into the end of the 10 1/2 inch piece 2 x 4 stock. The ends of the 1 x 3’s need to be flush and centered (meaning about 1/4 inch of 2 x 4 exposed on either side of the 1 x 3) on the end of the 2 x 4. Don’t over sink the screws or you’ll spit the wood. Then attach the other two legs to the other end of the 2 x 4. This will serve as the top of the ladder and pivot point for the legs.

Step 3: Go ahead and drill pilot holes in each end of the rungs. Attach the bottom rung (19 1/2 inches) with one 1 5/8 in. screw per side – one foot from the bottom on the inside legs. Continue attaching rungs – longest to shortest – up the ladder with one foot spacing. Now, flip the ladder over and repeat the process for the outside legs starting with the 21 inch rung.

Step 4: With the rungs attached evenly, open the ladder and stand it up. Connect the 20 inch braces to the sides of the ladder. I attached mine at the second rung from the bottom. You can adjust the width of the ladder by moving the braces up for a wider base or down to make the ladder more narrow.

Step 5: Place the tomato ladder over your tomato plant. Drive a pointed wooden stake in the ground beside two legs catty-corner style. Screw the legs into the stakes to anchor them securely.

After the growing season, simply take one screw out of each brace, unscrew the legs from the ground stakes, and fold the tomato ladders up for storage. Or move them into your greenhouse for the winter growing season.

Note: I cut two feet off the top of our original “twin tower” tomato ladders to keep neighborly busy-bodying to a minimum. Here’s the finished product.

Todd's Tomato Ladders

Four of Todd’s Tomato Ladders anchored and ready with an old wooden ladder on the far left.

Friends don’t let friends use lame tomato cages! What’s your best method of caging tomatoes?

Here’s a non-related byproduct of building these tomato ladders…

3 pound bass

My fly rod and this largemouth bass ended my Saturday on a great note!

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Gardening, Homesteading | Tags: , , | 20 Comments

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