Help a reader: Is it safe to use concrete reinforcing wire around tomatoes?

yarn around tomato cage in Buffalo NY area
I don’t have a photo of a tomato cage made of concrete reinforcing wire. This is just a standard tomato cage. I wrapped yarn around it to keep the rabbits from eating my sunflower sprout, and you can see that it worked. If you have an answer to the question about the concrete reinforcing wire, please leave a comment below. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

A reader sent me this gardening question that I can’t answer, but I hope one of my readers can. Can we use concrete reinforcing wire in our gardens? If you can answer his question, please leave a comment below.

Here’s the whole question:

Hi Connie.  I have a question for you or one of your readers. 

I’ve read a lot about using concrete reinforcing wire to make sturdy tomato cages.  All I’ve ever seen about that wire is a rather rusty cage. 

Would we really want all that rust in our gardens and surrounding our tomatoes?  If I knew it was safe enough then I’d use the wire for cages. 

Thoughts? 

Thanks.
 
Jim Bala

Background

Sometimes readers contact me with questions that I can’t answer. I’m not a gardening expert– I’m a writer by profession. I interview knowledgeable people in order to provide you with great articles on Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com.

So when someone asks a question I can’t answer, I post the question and rely on my readers to share their expertise. If you have advice for Jim, please leave a comment below. If you want to know the answer to this question, check back later to read the comments.

Sending a question to me to post can be helpful if you’re looking for a wide range of opinions and don’t mind waiting for the answer. If you want to try this route, email the question to me at connie@buffaloniagaragardening.com and I’ll pose it to my readers in an upcoming issue.

A more efficient route for getting your questions answered is to turn to Master Gardeners with Cornell Cooperative Extension or to turn to your local garden center.

For Master Gardeners at Cornell Cooperative Extension Erie County, call (716) 652-5400 from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays or email them at mgeriecce@gmail.com. For Chautauqua County, email your question to CCEMGCC@gmail.com; call the Helpline at (716) 664-9502, ext 224, or stop in to the Frank Bragg Ag Center, 3542 Turner Rd., Jamestown,  from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays.

There are helpful Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in other counties, too. Find contact information here for your county’s Cooperative Extension office.

The businesses that support this magazine have very knowledgeable staff. Check out our Gardening Directory or click on an ad to get their contact information.

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5 Comments on “Help a reader: Is it safe to use concrete reinforcing wire around tomatoes?

  1. I have used it before for tomatoes, cucumber and squash. I also used if for clematis trellising. I don’t see why it would hurt.

  2. As a potter, who has occasionally dug native clay, I have discovered that there is so much naturally occurring iron in the soil in my area of Western NY that I can’t believe it will be a problem at all.

  3. No expertise here, just a couple of thoughts. First, some reinforcing wire is galvanized (coated with zinc) to prevent rusting. I’ve used that in the garden previously. Little or no rust and weathers attractively. Second, rust is just iron oxide. That’s not harmful and it’s even in some “foods” that can be purchased for our plants. Once again it can fit a more rustic aesthetic without harm (in my opinion)!

  4. I was told by a local nursery owner that her “trick” to keeping her plants look good all summer is to use rusty water especially in potted and hanging plants. She said she has a water barrel with rusty nails in it and gives her plants water from there once a week or so. It adds iron from the rust. I tried it the last two years and had good success with my plants not dying out in the late summer. I’ve got my water tub ready for this season.

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