Sunday, May 21, 2017

Homemade Tomato Cage

When my gardener friend trimmed the bottle brush tree (the top branches had got singed from the neighbor's garage fire a couple of weeks ago), I asked him to save some of the longer, straighter branches for me.   I was going to try and make myself a tomato cage, using them!  I had seen some on-line and I wanted to try making one, since I was loathe to spend actual money on a pre-made tomato cage!  (We all know that I am frugal, don't we?)

On Saturday, I selected four of the branches:

Four Branches to Use as Poles

Three might have been enough, too, to make a sort of tripod, but I thought a box-shaped one would be better, sturdier.

I also selected some shorter lengths to add as cross pieces.

The examples I saw, and the instructions I read, all used twine.  Well, I didn't have twine and I didn't want to go out and buy any, either (what? and spend money!  OK, so now everyone knows that, sometimes, I go beyond frugal into "cheap" territory!  LOL!).  Instead, I chose something I had plenty of on hand - fabric from the stash, cut into strips (actually, I just made the initial cut and then, tore the fabric into strips).

Dancer helped:

Helpful Kitty

The first step probably should have been to make the holes for the poles and set them in place.  Instead, I chose to tie the first two cross pieces to the poles, using strips of fabric: 


The first cross pieces tied in place

Then, I set the poles in place and tied the other two cross pieces to make the first rung.  So far, so good.


The first rung is complete.
I continued to tie cross pieces and formed a passable tomato cage.  I finished making it Saturday evening, but, by then, it was getting dark and the photos I took were too dark to show anything properly.

I took these pictures this morning:

Completed Tomato Cage
  
It's the leaning tower of Bless!  Oh, dear!  I really should have sunk the poles in deeper as the whole structure seems a bit lop-sided!  Bricks and stones to the rescue!  I am telling myself it is good enough.  It doesn't look too bad from this angle, but here's another look from a different angle:




I have a feeling it is too big!  I can hear the little tomato plant saying, "Lady, just how big do you think I'll grow?!"  LOL!  Dream big, little tomato plant, and grow!  I've high expectations of you!


My gardener friend is taking the Memorial Day weekend off, but when he next visits, I might ask him to help dig deeper holes and set the structure in a little more.  If necessary, I can cut the strips of fabric and retie the whole thing.  Or, add additional cross pieces.

I have more poles and smaller branches, if I feel like making another trellis type thing.

But, for what it's worth, I have a tomato cage that didn't cost me a penny!  That is frugal, organic, environmentally friendly, reusing and recycling material I have, plus, it was a fun crafts project to do!  What more can one ask?

What do you think?  Have you made a tomato cage?  Did you use wire?  Would you make a twig cage using branches you've pruned off a tree in your garden?

26 comments:

  1. Oh Bless your tomato cage is awesome! Love the idea of using fabric strips, however Dancer thinks that you made them for him to play with! I have made a bean trellis from Buddleia tree as they were straight and strong, but I used cotton string I already had. I had the same problem of it being unstable, so rather than dismantle I got some short thick twigs and shaved a point one end and hammered them into the soil quite deep next to the supports and tied them, it worked even when a gale came when it was fully laden.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon, especially for the supports tip! I might do something like that! Too hot to work in the garden, today (91F), unless it cools off in the evening. Hope all is well with you.

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  2. I like your tomato cage. The rustic look is so much more appealing than metal cages that go rusty, not rustic, in the end.
    Bushlady

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    1. Thank you, Bushlady. I'm thinking that if it is too big for the tomato plant, I might be able to make it into a trellis for some vines, or something, and make a smaller cage for the tomato.

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  3. I think using the limbs as poles is a charming way to cage your plants! Now grow little tomato, grow!

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    1. Thank you, Anne. Yes, little tomato plant, grow as big as you can! LOL.

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  4. I like it. Although I must admit I'd never heard of a tomato cage before. Can't you tell I'm a novice gardener. X

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    1. A lot of people stake their tomato plants, but tomato cages seem very popular, here. I feel what I made is too big, but everything I've read and watched said to go very tall. We'll see if my little plant will reach that high!

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  5. Very nice! Homemade cages and trellises are the "in-thing"! Yes it probably will grow that high! I can't wait to see your tomatoes. Your kitty might take back that fabric...lol. Andrea

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    1. Thanks, Andrea. We shall wait and see how the plant does! Kitty has plenty more fabric where it came from! He just wants to be right in the middle of whatever I am doing!

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  6. This is very ingenious AND frugal, Bless! Good luck with the tomatoes! Don't forget that each tomato plant needs a minimum of 1 gallon of water a day to thrive.

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    1. Thanks, Nathalie. That's a lot of water! One of my friends sent me a picture of tomato plants with a big flower pot sunk in the ground, next to it, for watering! I guess one fills the flower pot and it drains to where the roots are. I am going to try that trick and see if it works.

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  7. Your creation doesn't look very stable. I think it would work much better if you had used a tipi style, joining all the long stakes at the top creating a cone. Then you'd only have to dig the stakes into the ground to keep the cage in place, not to keep it upright.

    Jazz

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    1. Yes, that's what I was originally thinking of doing, but didn't. I might untie that top rung and retie the poles together. Maybe next weekend.

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  8. Very clever!! DIY projects are the best. I like your organic approach to taming your tomatoes. :)

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    1. Thank you, Carolyn. I felt I needed to try! And it was fun. :)

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  9. That looks groovy! Love the reuse and repurposing, and its a real talking point in your garden. We made a trellis for our Wisteria, but yours looks better
    Enjoy it!
    Siobhan

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    1. Thank you, Siobhan. I am thinking it might have been easier if I had just hot glued the sticks instead of tying them, but this way, it can be dismantled if needed. I now want to build another one with the remaining poles!

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  10. That looks like a fun project. You'll have to keep updated as you make modifications, so next year you'll have the best design figured out if the rest of us want to make cages that way.

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    1. It was a fun project, Live and Learn, and yes, I'll keep you updated. :)

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  11. I love your leaning tower of BLess! You are a smart and creative lady!

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  12. Love the tomato cage. Have your gardener friend push it further down into the ground if he can. You will certainly need it that tall, and it definitely looks sturdy enough to hold the weight of the branches. And when it turns out to be a wonderful success, I hope you remember to give Dancer some of the credit.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I shall plant a pot of cat grass, for him! He'll like that!

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  13. Should you need to re-work your home style tomato plant cages, you might use cooking string, made more flexible and sturdy by braiding 3 long strips together. I too have used long, thin rips of fabric, likewise braiding as I can then work the lengths of bamboo [or whatever poles] through the 'braid' for a higher level of stability. I've not tried the teepee theory but it is used extensively here as we have several indigenous tribes who make, use and sell them here since there is tribal land in our city.

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    1. Thanks, Hon. There seems to be a sad lack of string of any type in my house! I have yarn and I have thread, but no string or twine! I might have to buy a roll of twine, one of these days. But the fabric strips made a good alternative, in this instance.

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