Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trellis and Cages

We have good luck with tomatoes. This is only our second year with a vegetable garden so perhaps that statement is premature. Let's just say this. The one and only time we planted tomatoes, we produced an awesome harvest with behemoth plants. We're talking huge. The plants got so big and so heavy with fruit that their store bought tomato cages crumpled under their weight and did nothing to support our rapidly growing plants. And because the tomatoes now rested on the ground, they were more likely to be the victim of pests, namely the desert cricket. Did you know that crickets ate tomatoes? Well, I didn't either. We lost 3/4 of our last tomato harvest because of crappy cages and crickets. Never again.

The first thing we did was get the cricket population under control by calling a local organic pest control company. Done and done. The next was to come up with an alternative solution to the wimpy tomato cages we purchased at out local hardware store. At five dollars a pop, you'd think the things would be able to support one heck of a plant but apparently, five dollars doesn't quite buy enough wire to accomplish such a feat. My Dad had experienced the same problem and used leftover galvanized fencing wire to fashion his own sturdy cages.

We didn't have any leftover galvanized fencing wire or anything remotely close to it. We ended up purchasing a roll for around $35. With a little time, some wire snippers and a whole lotta zip ties (if you don't have any, get some. Zip ties are awesome!), my Hubby made some rock solid cages for our blossoming tomato plants. He used a staple gun to attach a wooden stake (left over from another project) to further enforce it and help anchor it in the ground.

"Helping" Daddy build the cages

Happily supported tomatoes!
There was still a bit of wire left over along with the wooden stakes so he also made some trellises for our beans, peas and cukes to climb on. Last season, we just let these leggy crops spread out on the ground which was fine, production wise, but the vines choked out other plants and those damn crickets had easier access to the fruits of our labor. Having them grow upward saves space, saves time and looks really cool. The trellises were staked just like the cages and can be pulled up and rolled to be stored or moved depending on where they are needed.

Our only out of pocket cost was the wire. We made ten cages and five trellises. If we would have bought them, we would have had to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $75, only to watch them collapse and watch our fruit spoil and rot. Instead, we spent $35 and have sturdy, lasting garden "accessories" that if properly cared for, will last us more than one season. I can't wait for the winter tomato harvest. I keep imagining all those home canned jars of marinara lined up in my pantry....anyone have a recipe?


  1. I think you'll need 40lbs or so of tomatoes for marinara. Perhaps non-Italians don't need as much, but I think that's what our neighbor used when I was a kid!

  2. SO jealous of your plants. Ours were a flop this past year. Hoping for better next year when we plant a real garden. We will certainly make our own cages and trellises. Such a great idea.

  3. I need a building lesson! We never removed our old plants last season. They died and came back like crazy!! They have taken over our garden and are producing like crazy. We also have peppers & bell peppers growing like crazy. It's going to be quite the season....