Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 tomato cages - new and improved!

I'd like to talk to you for a moment about mechanical grip -- as it relates to tomato cages.

Last summer, Holly and I came up an impromptu design for tomato cages: bamboo bound with zip ties; anchored at the base by bricks. My wife liked the renewable nature of the bamboo, and I liked the vague Gilligan's Island feel it gave our terrace. The green plastic coils hung from the top and supported the plants well. However, this design proved to have one fatal flaw: the cross member at the top of the cage.

As strong as the zip ties were, they just didn't have much purchase on the round, smooth bamboo -- especially at the top, where five pieces came together. We came home several times to cages leaning dramatically to one side -- thanks to violent downpours and the occasional wind gust. Attempts to reinforce the cages with additional cross members proved unsuccessful. We considered scrapping the design for 2009, but thankfully, Holly came up with a great solution...

She purchased four 1x2 pieces of cedar and cut triangular notches on each side. These cedar pieces replaced the bamboo cross members, and so far, they have offered far more mechanical grip. The cages still need bricks to anchor the bottom, but we're quite confident they'll make it through the summer in one piece.
[knocks on wood]


PJ said...

Well, sounds like a lot of woik and you beat me by a mile. I just got new books, Joy of Pickling, Wild Fermentation, Preserving Food Without Freezing, etc. The Ball Blue Book arrives via eBay in a few days.

So, today I put up four more pints of fig preserves and two half-pints of dewberries. I bought organic cabbages and pickling salt but forgot about filtered water. Have to take care of that tomorrow. I'm still not sure what I'll use for a crock "lid". Nothing is quite the right size, either too big or too small. I'll sleep on it and have the answer tomorrow. I think it might involve DH and power tools.

jason said...

Crock lids are historically wooden. You could purchase a wooden lid from Lehman's, but Holly says that covering the crock with a piece of clean, cotton muslin will do fine.