I finally found a use for those cheap wire tomato cages (which of course are no use for growing tomatoes! Every year I try to use them (I did pay for them, after all, and it would be a shame to just leave them lying there . . .) and every year they end up lying sideways, overburdened with a too-heavy tomato plant and blown over by the wind we get up here on our hill).
Not only do I have a dozen or so bent-up cages of my own, but my dear sister-in-law (The Instigator) just got fed up with hers and gave those to me, too! So now I have a couple dozen more to find a use for.
So, what was my big idea? I'm using them for peas! Peas aren't nearly as heavy as tomatoes, and they'll grow on anything (including, unfortunately, their neighboring plants - which I learned when I grew them next to tomatoes a couple years ago!) I'd been growing my peas on regular garden fencing, but now I want to use that for something else, so voila! Easy, efficient, already-owned replacement!
I also have a few square tomato cages, which also are too flimsy for tomatoes, but which worked great for growing cucumbers (I tried this for the first time last year, with excellent results!)
Now, if anyone out there knows a good way to actually support tomatoes, please let me know!!! For now I'm using these "Ultomato" plastic tomato cages which are a bit more heavy-duty, but also more expensive!
(You can read part 2 here and see what I ended up using for my tomato plants this year)