Posts Tagged ‘yard projects’

When we moved to Texas I was thrilled because we had a big backyard and lot of space to put a garden in. Before I did anything out back I waited to see what was growing back there in the “flower” gardens. The previous owner had said, “oh the back gardens are beautiful with so many blooming things,” so I waited and watched. Hmmmm….. looked like a huge unkempt mess to me, all over the property, and after waiting and watching, that is mostly what it was – a mess. As  I slowly made my way through the mess I also started planning the vegetable garden. Lots to do.

When it came time to put tomatoes in, I got out my old tomato supports – you know, the galvanized support that is round and bigger on top, then tappers done to 3 or 4 spikes to anchor it in the ground. They had served me well in the past, but after using them here, they just weren’t big enough or heavy-duty enough to support the tomato plants.

A roll of galvanized wire

A roll of galvanized wire

My neighbor showed me the cages he made. They were made from reinforced concrete mesh. It is really rusty, but it worked. So I picked up some hog rings, borrowed my neighbors bolt cutters and a special pair of pliers (that he modified to secure the hog rings) and I was ready to make my own tomato cages.

The tools I use

The tools I use

These cages have worked great for all of my tomato plants, and I even use them for some of the pepper plants like Anaheim and bell peppers that tend to get real tall. The other peppers I plant (banana, cubanelle, jalapeno, Serrano, cayenne get bushy, but so seem to need the support of the cage so I just don’t cage them.

If you do a quick search on the internet for “tomato cage images” you will see 1000’s of examples. The cages I make and use are just one example.

Originally, I bought a roll of the concrete reinforced mesh and I still have those original cages today. A few years ago I bought a 300′ roll of galvanized wire and have been using that roll as I needed more cages and other things around the yard.

The supplies I use:

  • Sturdy wire mesh/fencing
  • Bolt Cutters
  • Hog Rings
  • Hog Ring pliers or tool
  • Gloves

I usually do this kind of stuff on my own, so to keep the unrolled section of fencing from rolling back on top of me and (biting me as it springs back,) I take two rocks (see photo above) and to anchor the ends down as I unroll the fence just enough to make one cage at a time. I count the squares off and stand on the section of fence that makes up the cage. I have found that using bolt cutters cuts the wire so easily for me. You can use a wire cutters, but since I struggle with tendon issues in my hands the last thing I want to do it aggravate that, so I use the bolt cutters – no problems. Cutting off the raw endsMake sur I am have picked them all upOnce I have cut my section of fence, I cut off the the exposed, raw ends.  You can use those ends to wrap around and secure your cages with those end, I just don’t want those rough ends – I tend to scratch myself up on them while picking tomatoes.  Before I finish my tomato cage, I pick up the raw ends I just cut off. I count them each time to make sure I didn’t miss one. The last thing I want to do is run over one of those with the lawn mower!

How I keep it togetherNow, it is time to connect the ends of the wire fencing to make the tomato cage. I use three hog rings per cage. You can use more if you want, that is up to you. I get one hog ring ready in the special pliers. My neighbor cut notches in a normal set of pliers so the hog rings wouldn’t slip out as he was using it. I think you can buy a set of pliers specifically made for this tasks, I am just using the tools that my neighbor has. I start by securing the middle section of the cage first, that way I don’t have one end of the wire gaping and flopping around ready to scratch me up. I roll the wire fencing into a tube and hold the two ends together near the center. My other hand is ready with the hog ring. Then is is just a matter of securing the two ends.


Your cage may be a bit out of shape. Just roll it and push down on the wire to get it formed into a nice circular tube.

These make very study tomato cages and they will last for many many years. My neighbor just started replacing a few of the cages he made using the reinforced concrete mesh that he made 15-20 years ago.

What do you use to support your tomato (or pepper plants)

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Some of you may have read my post about the feed bags I was working on back in April over at Sincerely, Emily.  I mentioned that I was getting ready to use them on a project.

A really big mulching project to be exact. I have been thinking about mulching the whole area between the front sidewalk and the front of the house.  We don’t have “proper” grass and even when I do have to mow, it is an awkward area and it need a lot of trimming (my least favorite thing to do that never gets done.) Another thing I like about the mulch is that there is a recycling center about 20 miles from us. You can drop off your tree trimmings and the turn it into mulch. You pay a small fee ($5 a pick-up truck load to drop), but you can pick up as much mulch as you need – FREE!  How is that for local.

I really wasn’t sure what I wanted out of that area. I figured I would mulch the whole area, but what else. I finally came up with adding some crepe myrtle trees and figured that was a good start. I found the trees and got those in the ground, then I could start the mulching. Each crepe myrtle tree has a wire cage around it to protect it from the deer. It will be removed once the tree is tall enough and can’t hurt the upper branches at that point.

This is where the feed bags come in.  Last fall I planted four oleander up near the garage wall. The summer sun creeps around there late in the afternoon and I wanted something that would be drought tolerant and grow up to provide some nice shade to the garage wall. I had removed a lot of the grass over the winter, but I still knew I would lay the feed bags down before adding mulch to the entire area.

It took two full truck loads of mulch to finish this project. each load is about 2 cubic yards. would lay down a few feed bags at a time. I had to fight against the breeze. The breeze is a good thing, because it helped keep me cool (it was about 94F), but it blows the bags around, so it makes this job longer with only one person. Then I would fill a wheelbarrow full of mulch and start spreading it over the bags. I was careful not to cover the edges, because I needed to layer the bags, overlapping them or else the weeds and grasses tend to find the seems and sneak around them.

It took me a few days working in the mornings and the evening, a little at a time. I still have a small section up in the corner. There are some flat stones up there that I need help getting out of the ground so I can lay more feed bags and cover then with mulch, then I can lay the stones back down.

Eventually I will plant more deer resistant, drought tolerant and sun loving native plants in that area also. Things like Jerusalem Sage, Salvia Gregii, and other plants that both the birds and butterflies will enjoy.

For now, it is just great the way it is. I can add more this fall when it cools off, or next spring.

Sincerely, Emily

P.S.  I will be “unplugged” from technology for a few weeks. I look forward to reading your comments and will respond to each and every one of them when I am back and get back into the swing of things.

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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