A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homemade Tomato Cages

We had some serious trouble last year with our tomatoes.  Both the cherry tomatoes and heirloom/eating tomatoes got so large and heavy that they quickly wound up dragging on the ground and entangled in a huge mess.  Sure we used tomato cages, but quickly found that the small tomato cages are useless, the large "sturdy" ones are a bit better but they still collapse under the weight of all the delicious fruit by mid summer.

The solution?  Homemade tomato cages, with a large side dish of John overkill.
I read an article about homemade tomato cages using re-mesh (the stuff they use to lay on the ground to pour concrete over).  So I scampered over to the local hardware store and bought a roll of 5' by 50' 10 gauge re-mesh, some bailing wire, and large pair of bolt cutters to snip it with.  Construction actually went faster than I anticipated and I got two completed in about 45 minutes.  Subsequent ones will go much faster since I have a system now.*
*These are famous last words of mine.  "Having a system" always seems to work theoretically but usually loses some of its efficiency in practice.  I can't remember how many times I've "had a system" only to find that the system isn't as great as I thought.  It may even be that once I declare I "have a system" that I officially jinx myself and the universe must forcefully readjust the size of my britches since they have obviously grown too large for my own good.  Thanks universe. 
The end result is less of a tomato cage than a tomato maximum security prison.  I'm pretty sure that a tree could fall on these things and they'd be fine.  Yeah I feel pretty awesome. We'll use the old regular tomato cages for the peppers this year, they aren't as heavy but still benefit from some support.  I may also experiment with using a tomato cage on the cucumbers that like to climb a bit.  
The only casualties from my tomato cage building experiment were a few good gouges from the snipped re-mesh metal (I think I may need a tetanus shot now), mostly due to my inattentiveness.  Alycia and I have a pretty good understanding when it comes to these crazy projects.  She can tell when I have a bee in my proverbial bonnet (I rarely sport an actual bonnet these days anymore) and asks a few well intentioned questions, then backs off when she realizes she can't talk me out of it.  My part of the bargain is to hide the scrapes, bruises, or impaled objects, then discretely clean up the bloody garments and self administer first aid.  It's a good system.

We'll see how the new cages work as the summer progresses and the plants start to set heavy amounts of fruit.  I promise to update you with any successes or failures on the new tomato cages.

Don't have the gumption to make your own tomato cages?  That's no big deal.  If you have a few bucks to spend, you can get some pretty sweet tomato cages, like these on Amazon.   


Sara said...

Are you sure those aren't just the early framing stages of a Gnome new-build neighborhood?

Karen said...

I hear you on the 'system' thing, my famous last words on many an occasion too. But I think you have some really sturdy tomato cages there, and it looks like your system is working really well. Hope you keep us posted on how it turns out. My tomatoes are in no need of cages yet, they are sulking in a mud puddle right now.

Laura said...

Minus the injuries, sounds like your project turned out well. I kind of went overboard with my plants and need a ton of cages. I will consider this method.