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.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homemade Tomato Cages - Cost Benefit Analysis and Final Thoughts

It's the third year of using our Homemade Tomato Cages and with that experience under my belt, I thought it might be useful to perform a final cost benefit analysis to determine if it was worth it to go through the trouble of making these Homemade Tomato Cages.  There are also a few pros and cons of these tomato cages that I'll pass along in case you're interested in replicating these for your garden. 

In case you missed the previous posts about these tomato cages over the years, you can read the First Post, the Second Post, and the Third Post in chronological order.  These posts offer the full story along with details on how to make some of your own. 
So was it worth it to build these myself versus buying them?  Right off the bat my knee jerk reaction is yes since there just aren't commercially available tomato cages that are this big and this sturdy.  But how much did each tomato cage cost?  Well I purchased the following materials:

5' x 50' Reinforcing Mesh, 10 Gauge -        $29.99
10" End Cutting Pliers (to cut wire mesh) - $19.99
Spool of Wire for securing cages -                 $3.49

Total cost was $53.47 and I got 12 tomato cages out of the 50 foot roll, for a cost of $4.46/tomato cage.  There was enough material left over to make another cage, but instead I used it to make two narrow towers for climbing clematis vines, so theoretically my per unit cost could have been ($53.47/13) $4.11/tomato cage.  The big question though is, would I have paid more than $4.46 to buy tomato cages from a store?  Yes.  I'm fed up with the flimsy tomato cages that you buy for a couple of dollars, and probably would have spent $8 to $12 for the "Sturdy" types of tomato cages.  It's not the best cost benefit analysis if I don't know exactly what I would have spent, but suffice to say it would be significantly more than $4.46.  

And although the Reinforcing mesh was used up, I still have almost the whole spool of wire and the Cutting Pliers for future use.  The pliers aren't much use except for cutting heavy gauge metal, but I have used them for other things over the last two years. So even though I'm including those costs, I still have the benefit of use of the Cutting Pliers, which would reduce future tomato cages I make.  Here are some final pros and cons as well:

  • These cages are sturdy as heck and can actually fully support the large plants filled with heavy tomatoes.
  • The cages are five feet tall, stick six inches in the ground and aren't going anywhere.
  • It wouldn't surprise me if these last 15 or 20 years.
  • They're very easy to use and the six inch grid spacing makes tomato harvesting easy.
  • Cheaper and sturdier than anything I could buy commercially.
  • It was a great rainy day project to make them.  When it was too cold or rainy to work in the garden, I could hole up in the garage and make tomato cages.
  • They're bulky to store. Right now I have space in the second garage, but I may end up storing some outside in a few years when we convert the second garage to a greenhouse.
  • You get really dirty with rust when you make them.  Wear old clothes and (ahem!) make sure you're up to date with your tetanus shot.
  • The Wire Reinforcing mesh is a bit unruly to work with. Since it's in a roll, it wants to roll itself back up.  You need to have your wits about you, it's pretty easy to get some nasty scratches. 


Reinforcing Mesh Price said...
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Anonymous said...

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