I don’t like galvanized wire tomato cages that bend and tip over and make your garden look cheap. They end up too short or too tall and you are always overcharged because it’s a fancy-dancy tomato cage, though it’s really just fencing that’s been bent into a tube. So I made my own. A rocketship tomato cage.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
A 25’ roll of 2” x 4” x 3’ galvanized wire fencing like this
½” – 1” diameter bamboo, six feet minimum per cage
Drill and 1/8” bit
First plan out how many cages you’ll want. If you give yourself two hours for this project you’ll be done with three cages and cleaned up with time to spare. If you want taller cages, get the 4’ fencing, but you’ll see that 3’ plus the legs makes a pretty tall cage.
Ready for math? No, of course not, so I’ll do it for you: circumference=ΠD. To get a cage with a 1’ diameter, you need a length of fencing that is at least 3’ long. Whoa, all this maths ‘n stuff makes me thirsty! Gin and tonic please! Give yourself a little extra room and cut a 40” length of fencing with the wire cutters. And don’t spill your drink.
Good news, flappy! The fencing was in a roll, so it already wants to form a cage. Why fight it? Use your pliers to bend back each horizontal wire to loop around the vertical on the other side. You are basically stitching the two sides together to form a cylinder, like this:
Now cut open one or two access holes by snipping out one vertical section between two horizontals, leaving you with a 4” square. This should be plenty to reach in and tend your plant, unless you have hands like Andre the Giant, in which case you need a 4″ x 8″ hole, or can just rip the plant out of the ground and eat the whole thing.
Now onto the bamboo. If you have a neighbor with bamboo or a botanical garden nearby, ask politely for a piece or two. You can buy it at a garden center or hardware store, but this project is meant to be cheap. I lucked out and got mine for free. If you have a Japanese pull saw already, great! If not, see my post on the dining room table to learn why you need one. Mark off two-foot sections on your bamboo and with a few quick strokes of the saw, your fingers will be neatly trimmed off and plop on the ground like Vienna sausages. Just kidding! I’m sure you are using all safety precautions. You can either cut right at the knuckle of the bamboo or in the middle of a section. Personally I wanted a cap at the top to keep out water, and a hollow tube at the bottom so I could easily push it into the soil. But I’m Uncle F$@k-up so don’t think I have all the answers.
Anyway, now that you’ve got three two-foot sections of bamboo, it’s time to drill. Lay the cage on its side and lay out the bamboo so you have at least one foot past the bottom of the cage. Mark where the bottom and fourth-from-bottom horizontal wires are on the bamboo then drill holes straight through the bamboo both in the same direction.
Snip one of the horizontal wires right where it meets a vertical and thread it through the hole then wrap it around the bamboo. Do this with the other hole and you should have one leg secured like this:
Repeat three times and your cage is done. If you want to go for the full effect, form the top part into a cone and wire a Lego spaceman into the top. Now put on a spaceman helmet, grab a juice box of Tang, and prepare for blastoff!