Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tomato Cages

I've been doing a lot of reading on the best way to support tomato plants.  It seems that the general consensus is to use concrete wire mesh and form the wire into circular cages.  Again, I enlisted the help of my wonderful husband to help with the project.

First, I had to get the wire mesh.  I shopped around a bit and found rolls of 150ft by 5ft rolls at Home Depot for about $110.  I didn't think that I would use all 150ft in the near future, so I looked to see if there were any half rolls available.  After looking at other big box home improvement stores and local landscaping stores, I had no luck.  It seemed I had to bite the bullet and get a full roll, or buy the smaller sheets of remesh at Home Depot.  But, I didn't want to do this because the sheets were only 3.5ft tall, when I really wanted at least 5ft cages, since tomato plants can reach 6ft tall if they are indeterminate.  I did, however, find a local concrete/landscape company that sold the 150ft roll for $85, so Jon picked up the roll for me.

We also bought some heavy duty bolt cutters at Home Depot to cut through the wire (about $15), and some zip ties to secure the wire into a circle.

So far, Jon and I have made 8 tomato cages.  We made three different sizes - 5ft, 5.5, and 6ft in length, which end up being about 19 inches to 23 inches in diameter.  It is helpful to make a few different sizes so that I can stake the cages inside each other for storage if I need to move them out of my garden.  The cages are about 4.5ft tall since we cut open the bottom 6 inches of the mesh to make prongs to stick into the ground to hold the cages more securely in place.  I plan to make at least 2 more tomato cages, for a total of 10 cages.

I still have about 100ft of remesh left after the cages, but I plan make good use of it by setting up some trellises to grow some of my squash vertically.  I also plan to make some trellises for my cucumbers eventually.  I'm very happy with the result of the project.

Side note, the concrete remesh is very sharp and since it is tightly coiled, it has a lot of spring and power as you unroll it.  I was extremely careful while cutting the wire, but Jon is not nearly as cautious as I am, and it ended up getting him in the end.  The coil of wire sprung back and gave him a good size cut on the the back of his arm.  The wire is very rusty, and Jon has not had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years, so he ended up having to go to the doctor the next day to get his updated shot (much to his dislike, but to my relief).  Make sure you have an updated tetanus shot, wear gloves and eye protection, and take extreme caution before working with concrete remesh!

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