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Old April 3, 2009   #1
Thawley
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Default Making Tomato Cages from Concrete Mesh


Home Depot sells 5x150' rolls of 6" concrete mesh for $120. Using 13 squares (6.5') per cage, one roll of mesh will make 23 cages. The full roll is heavy – 150lbs – so use a dolly or a friend to help you move it.


The ends are bent inward to keep the roll closed.


A-clamps or a helper will keep the roll from springing open when the ends are straightened out.




Get some good pliers to unbend and open the roll. The bigger and better the pliers, the less pain and soreness will be required.


Wood, bricks or container plants can be used to manage the roll and keep it from getting away from you. (It wants to unwind more than you may want it to...)


Count out the number of 6" squares for the size cage you want – I used 13 squares – and cut each horizontal wire tightly against the 5' vertical wire. That'll make all the ends the same length and give you a clean vertical wire at the beginning of the next 6.5' length.


You can use the pliers to bend the ends – but I had a nut driver with a hole drilled about an inch or so up into the shaft. The fixed depth of the hollow gave me consistent length bends without having to measure.


Nut driver handle gave good leverage and straight, tidy bends.




Bent ends form hooks that grab the vertical wire at the other end once rolled.




Overlapping the ends by one 6" square keeps the cage round and gives you something to hold onto when hooking all the ends in place.




The cage should hold itself together without additional fasteners or welding. I used wire-ties to prevent any surprise movement or dismemberment that might occur once the cage is weighted down with tomatoes.
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Old April 3, 2009   #2
sprtsguy76
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I bought a roll of the 5' last year. At 13 squares a cage it seemed like they made a 100 cages! I say better to buy in bulk. Good choice.

Damon
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Old April 3, 2009   #3
desertlzbn
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How big in circumference is that? I have 4ft high field fencing that was left over from an old fence maybe 30 ft long, and I was going to roll it all the way out cut 6 ft lengths and then make cages that way, but I don't know if it will be too small in circumference.
Thanks
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Old May 15, 2012   #4
Byron
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Divide the length by 3.142 for the diameter. That 6' length would give you about a 2 ft. diameter. I have found that too large a cage allows the plant to fall over inside.
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Old April 3, 2009   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thawley View Post


I like your Supervisor, Thawley!!
Dog.

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Old April 3, 2009   #6
Thawley
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I like your Supervisor, Thawley!!
That's Trudy. Not much of a tomato grower. She enjoys barking at other dogs, cultivating soil and rolling in freshly applied manure.
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Old April 3, 2009   #7
dice
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Circumference (length around the circle) = 3.1416 * diameter
(length across the circle)

If his circumference is 6' (13 squares at 1/2 foot per square,
minus 1/2 foot for the overlap, gives 6'), then his cages are
6'/3.1416 = a little less than 2' across.

If he cut them the same and then rolled them up the other
way (so that they would be taller), they would only be 4-1/2'
in circumference, and they would only be about 17" across
the circle (which probably seems a little tight and could
lead to broken branches with fruit hanging outside the cage).
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Old April 3, 2009   #8
Worth1
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What do you use to keep the cages from falling over?
Every spring here we get high winds, yesterday it was blowing around 45mph.

Worth
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Old June 19, 2012   #9
treeshaker
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i use a 1x2 about 5-6 ft long-put it in ground on south side and north side about8-10 in deep then tie top and bottom with some fine wire. they can take some really strong winds until they get really big(the plants) then i might put in another stake.with the dominent south winds 2 stakes are usually enough.
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Old May 31, 2013   #10
Durgan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
What do you use to keep the cages from falling over?
Every spring here we get high winds, yesterday it was blowing around 45mph.
Worth
When I used cages, they were anchored by a one half inch diameter, six feet long rebar anchored to the cage using a plastic tie. Strong like bull. Now i use overhead strings.
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Old June 1, 2013   #11
Douglas_OW
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Cattle panels should fit in a pickup bed. They are stiff, but still flexible. A full size bed is easier, but a short bed will do. If you load multiple panels, make sure that they all have the long, horizontal wires facing up- this makes it easier for them to slide against each other.

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Old January 29, 2015   #12
JoeGrow
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You need to use 3 to 5 ft T-Posts or equivalent, and wire the cages to them.
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Old April 3, 2009   #13
Thawley
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Worth –

I use screws and anchors for the cages next to the house in the driveway bed. Secure them near the top and they stay very well put.

Going out today to get some 1/2" rebar to cut into 3' lengths for the free standing cages. I've got a few 3' fence-posts from another project that work very well. But they cost more than I feel is necessary.

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Old April 3, 2009   #14
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Looks great! I am shocked you can buy the CRW that has no rust. Here, the rolls are nasty and you get covered in rust just loading them into your vehicle.
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Old April 5, 2009   #15
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Looks great! I am shocked you can buy the CRW that has no rust. Here, the rolls are nasty and you get covered in rust just loading them into your vehicle.
The wire Thawley is using is galvanized, so no rust. This is distinct from the concrete reinforcing wire, which is not galvanized and comes "pre-rusted." I suspect the galvanized wire is slightly more expensive, but I've never done a pricing comparison of the two. And, yes, you want to watch out when you're working with those rolls. They can jump out and bite you.

I used the galvanized wire from a large roll as in Thawley's photos. A large T-bar pounded into the ground and wired on supports the cage.
DSC_7046 Tomato plot 04-July-2007.jpg
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