I’ll certainly give this a try next growing season. Each fall I dissemble the parts, store them until spring and start again! This is a really creative way to secure tomatoes! Admittedly, this was a major investment for these raised beds. Always wear gloves and leather shoes or boots. Cattle panel tomato cages are constructed from rigid livestock panels - as the concrete trellis materials - in round or square shape. And it seems to be the most cost-effective solution for large production. A driveway works well. The 2×2 are 6ft. That certainly did the trick for securing the cages. Would be outstanding to just walk into the hoop and start picking, and be in the shade too! For ease of assembly ( and the fact that that the store was out of bolt cutters and were willing to cut the 16′ panels in half for me, ) I opted for the circular more or less) cages and placed them atop the earth , using steel posts as the anchors to attaché them too. Just lost my first red ripe tomatoes to predators. Sara what a great idea! I used pliers to wrap it around and secure the structure. There are 24 and counting! I then installed four screw eyes – one near each corner of the wooden bed frame about an inch down from the top. I cut them in 40 inch lengths and cut off the bottom cross pieces leaving 6 inch tines to push into the ground. Site design by Hibiscus Creative. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts! I can still cut the ties and store them stacked. The grinder was a great idea to minimize the sharp edges and now I know what to use my grinder for. My mom did the same, creating 6′ cylinders. I like to have the panel facing up so the long vertical rib is resting against the edge of the wood edge. Then as the tomatoes grow, I just periodically tie them to the row “fence”. Joe, Perhaps a little judgmental on my part, but they are not tall enough, and I’m still a stickler for sturdiness. Ingenious. Now I have the ultimate tomato and ultimate pepper support from livestock panels. (At least for some of us). Happy to share that info and was excited to do so, once I was convinced they were as good as I had hoped. Karen, I will start over here in TN. Soon as they detect the trap they fill in that hole so no others will use it . I am getting ready to do this project. I do not glue it so that I can use it in this small place.It is flexible so that it can expand out for the plant expansion. Would love updates. I’m pretty sure if I was growing in in-ground beds, I’d do the same thing. If my thought works then I’ll do it for the fruit trees. In my case, I get one complete cage at the height and width I like, with some pieces left over that I can use elsewhere in the garden. By the time I see it the bottom half is gone. If fact, mine were free as people threw out the wire. With straight spikes as the anchors, both panels should match up nearly perfectly. The roundness of the PVC makes it much easier to cope with. So what do you think? has the hem in each end to feed the hoop through or an old shower curtain. Thanks very much for your suggestion. They can be dangerous. I often think I should do the same thing. Mo, I like your comment. Otherwise, they are great for around the yard-den! Although my stacks have two “humps”. This task creates built … Empress of Dirt is building trellises for climbing veggies, Creative vegetable gardener makes sturdy tomato cages from cattle panels and Flower Patch Farmhouse has plants to make a beautiful garden … When I get my raised bed set up I think I will try to anchor my towers using the wooden frame of the bed with bars that go completely from side to side.. Then, when I placed the panels I sunk them so that the bottom horizontal wire is just even with the top of the bed frame. Another option: Build these simple wooden “tomato ladders.” End of season take down is made easy with a snip of the zip ties. Divine theme by Restored 316. H. SKU: 350207799. These panels are shiny and I don’t think the golfers are going to like that. I use the hog panels with 4x4 squares, still 4 x 16. Nice work though.. ive been wanting to order some cattle panels for trellises and now i may add a couple more to my list. I love you programs and your newsletter. The old Victory Garden Show used to show you how to do things, but now they mostly just show things. Each “square” is really 8″ high by 6″ wide. Based on welded-wire panels with 6″ spacing in each direction, the end result is a four-sided cage 3-1/2 ft tall (this dimension can be increased or decreased in 6″ increments, to suit the plant’s height), with each side 18″ wide. thanks for the video. It is easier to make than yours. Glad you mentioned the single panel idea. Since we’re retired and on a limited income, I figured out a way to make it just a bit more economical. you got any suggestions for me ? I started using a these cattle panels last year. This is appreciated on the first panel cuts, but especially if you are cutting multiple panels during your project Tony. These cages are super sturdy, tall enough and just wide enough so as not to crowd the plant but still leave ample room for other cages in the bed. I too thought about the exposed edges. I use concreat wire and cut them 6 feet long , but I use panels for green beans works great. Thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas! Plenty of room, at least for reaching in to harvest tomatoes. Can you advise as to what you used? Thanks for the comments Greg. Then simply repeat this process for the other panel. the only thing that I have had success with is to completely dig out the beds and attach a complete barrier of hardware cloth 1/2 inch square across the bottom and fill them back up this is a lot of work and expense . In late spring, I removed the greenhouse plastic and converted them into a bean trellis which worked great. The feedlot panel is perfect for keeping cattle, pigs, goats, and other livestock or animals fenced in. This leaves long spikes to anchor each panel in the soil. But as I addressed in the article, I am counting on these lasting a very long time. Those nubs are dangerously sharp. They rarely come back when the actual tomatoes are red! It is a very simple and easy to make project that only… I use concrete reinforcing wire in my garden all the time. Would appreciate your help as I would like to install it at the end of the season so we are simply ready to go next year. If you live in a windy area, like we do, pound a stake or bean pole into the ground on the windy side of your tomato cage. Joe, the only improve I could offer would be to replace plastic ties with hog rings fasteners. However, I did not know about livestock panels, and it would be nice not to have to deal with rusty wire, but since I don’t take them down, it’s not that big a deal. This assures that the cage will be extremely stable despite the shorter ground tines – and I can get three cages out of two cattle panels … You should be able to do that with vining plants too. I suggest plastic coated wire fencing. Growing a Greener World I cut the wire to make round cages which I still use today. Off camera, Joe dedicates his time to promoting sustainability through his popular books, blog, podcast series, and nationally syndicated newspaper columns. I do not grow in raised beds, so I adapted your idea for tomatoe cages to fit my rows of plants. Jeff, you’re doing what I’ve been doing for several years. If you do this, call around for quotes as it can really fluctuate. The leftover piece is the perfect size for a pepper cage because they need support too and my bamboo sticks never seem to do the job for that. Agreed Jas. Other websites also consider this to be the ultimate way to create a tomato cage and is guaranteed to be helpful in growing any type of plant. At the end of the season, just cut the wire of cable tie, and they go completely flat for storage. 2. When I hosted Fresh from the Garden on DIY Network, we used the round cages made from concrete reinforcement wire. This way I plant four plants to each cattle panel. I like the circular rolling idea and leaving spikes at the bottom to anchor the cages. Taking a few seconds to straighten the ends will make inserting them into the soil much easier. Cattle panels: They come in 4 feet wide by 16 feet long panels. I lay them on the ground and put two stakes in each one to make them structurally sound. With the width of the original panel reduced to the desired size, now it’s time to cut for the desired height. I ended up with tunnel about 25 ft. long and 8ft. A couple of things to keep in mind: 1) Make sure you can pull your hand in and out of the cage holes with whatever you’re growing in it, and If you live in a windy area, like we do, pound a stake or bean pole into the ground on the windy side of your tomato cage. You just need two things to make these cages. I know with farms that grow tomatoes, it’s a common practice to just use one long support, such as your idea or the Florida Weave method. http://simplyresourceful.blogspot.com/search?q=cattle&x=0&y=0, This year is my first attempt at using them for tomatoes. If all goes as planned, I won’t be spending another dime for at least 15 years on tomato supports. To each his own Urban. I find that wire tends to hurt the plant when and if the plant gets over barren from the weight of the fruit. I even use a piece at an angle to support cantalopes. For now I only use them as a guide to planting and them lift them from the bed. Thanks. A final but optional step to make it tidy is to secure each piece together with small cable ties. It has worked flawlessly ever since. Cow panels are made of heavy galvanized wire and are traditionally 16 feet long and and 52 inches high. I got wholesale quotes that ran from $90 – $120 each. Good for you and glad you like them. Excellent tip Jessie! How would you improve upon this? 3. Great for rotational gardening! This method takes a weekly routine of pruning, but the results are worth it. I wish I had better options for you. However, I too have cats that like to use those beds. And put the chicken stuff to work! So I expect they’re costing me about $1.30 or less per year. Lastly, instead of lashing the cage together after it is placed in the ground, I made one side a row longer and trimmed off fencing except for the three to four places where I left a couple of inches of metal sticking out. And if you go to the website and type in “raised bed” into the search field, you’ll find a lot more about my beds, and watch the show on how I actually made them. Do you recommend a specific wire gauge? Place one of the sections under a piece of straight lumber at least as long as the panel so that 3 squares are showing against the straight edge of the lumber. And at $120 for a 150 ft roll, I can get plant support for 6, 24ft rows. Super strong and durable, they last much longer than the welded wire fencing I used to use. I cut a dadoe in the ends of the 2×2 just deep enough to capture the wire and secured it with a zip tie. I tried a smaller pair but found they made my the palms of my hands sore after a short while of cutting. Gosh, I didn’t think about the fact that round panels would try to straighten themselves out once you unhooked them. That certainly addresses the storage issue. You’re right about the bed size and height. And your idea is perfect for your application. Can you give me finished measurements of cage? Here are the steps on how I make the Ultimate Tomato Cage: 1. This holds the panels firmly together and gives added stability and a seamless, solid look. Just ask for them at any farm supply store - they will know what you're talking about. http://s713.photobucket.com/user/heatherkent1/library/Tomato%20System?sort=3&page=1, http://www.johnnyseeds.com/videos/video-v60.html, https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/GGW-Raised-Bed-Garden.pdf, https://joegardener.com/video/how-to-top-tomatoes-what-to-do-when-tomato-plants-get-too-tall/, http://simplyresourceful.blogspot.com/search?q=cattle&x=0&y=0, http://simplyresourceful.blogspot.com/2015/05/baker-creek-spring-planting-festival.html. May 6, 2015 - Here's an update on the livestock panel tomato trellis experiment. As they near ripeness, all I have to do is wiggle the vine where it attaches to the melon, and when it comes free easily – perfect ripeness. Id take the loose bits you cut from the bottoms and shape them around the one side of each pannel, connecting them and creating a hinge while still letting them be stacked. Instead of cutting the panels, I just bent them into a cylinder then used cable ties to keep them together. Meet the ultimate tomato cage! Talk about production in a small area. Hi Joe I was not able to get the new seasons 8 show, I am heart broken since I follow your older shows and I do get some really good information out of them, I live in Connecticut but for some reason your new show has not been on yet. I then repeat step 2, starting from the other end of the original panel and count down 9 squares. Hubby is not as excited hence my research for cages. I love getting feedback like this on what works (and what doesn’t) in different parts of the country. Then I plant two tomato plants on each side. Yes, they cost about $14/cage but it’s well worth it for the differences these offer over the round ones. If I’m not mistaken, tetanus doesn’t eat metal or eat rust. They worked great for my cucumbers and pole beans too. Good gardening! Short of a physical barrier, very hard to do. This way when the plants grow higher then the cage I have something to tie them to ! Yes, I’ve tried just about everything, but nothing worked well enough and at the same time, looked good enough in the garden for my taste…until now. I use 1/2″ PVC. But to give it the extra stability I felt they needed, we drove galvanized piping along side the cages at each end of the bed and one long run that ran through the top of the cages all in a row. The cantalopes hang down in the air and stay insect free. If the holes are too small, as they were in some extra fencing I used, clip out a cross with 4 cuts in the fencing for access in several areas in the center of the cage so the structural integrity is not compromised but you have full access. It’s an easy DIY build and, with the addition of a mesh screen panel, can be used to secure other climbing plan… Thanks, Joe. I have tried kids plastic windmills, silver bird-ways streamer tape….etc,etc, & the birds still seem to peck away at the tomatoes when ripe. The cattle panels are a great idea, too. Of all the plants I grow in my edible garden, I have to say, my favorite are tomatoes! Since each panel will make 1 1/2 tomato cages, you'd need four panels to make six cages. One livestock panel for each cage (select the panel style that has a grid pattern approximately 6 inches square). I hope that you don’t get offended. I secure them to the bed with an electrical conduit pipe which is relatively inexpensive. I can use it hydroponically as well. However, if I were placing these into “in-ground” beds, I’d make them one square taller and wider, just because you’d have the luxury of the room and from ground level, an extra bit of height from the cage would be good. Rototilling reduced there numbers greatly. Tried the concrete wire before switching to cattle panels. I’ve done something similar with concrete reinforcement wire. Thanks for writing. You will love them! I’m going to try that in my workshop where I can control the environment and light. I can adjust the the length of each shelf as needed or as wide as needed. I personally love this set up and the walls of green. Also, regarding the discussion of weaving the plant through the grid, I purchased fishing net very inexpensively that I love. And as you rotate your garden, even with plants that don’t need to climb, with each square on the row panel being 6 inches, it makes it super easy to plant things with even spacing. Taking the edge off with file is the perfect solution. They are a great investment. Each cage side was cut so that it was 18″ x 36″. I would like to learn more on pruning tomatoes, I remove all the suckers, but outside of that I am not sure what to do. Larger cattle fence segments make a great trellis for climbing veggies. Hello Joe I know it’s frustrating to not be able to watch our current shows as they are released. Above ground, the cage stands 56″ tall, 18″ wide and 16″ below ground with those “spikes” to anchor the cages. I use these wonderful inventions I copied from Steve Solomon’s book Gardening West of the Cascades: http://s713.photobucket.com/user/heatherkent1/library/Tomato%20System?sort=3&page=1, And then use this system to prune and train them: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/videos/video-v60.html. Yes, it’s really hard to make those square corners, (I used to use my tractors front loader to hold the panel down). I have for the past 6 years been doing this with all of my vegetable gardens with the exception that I raise the panel about a to five inches off the ground. But yes, my concrete wire tomato cages also look like shit. I make my tomato cages out of 6 ft tall cattle fencing. Glad to hear this Carla. Yet on the ever-evolving list of 101 uses for livestock panels, my ultimate tomato cage is the latest, and so far, greatest use. Here’s a link to an article I wrote that gives the details of my raised bed garden: the type of wood I chose and why, the layout, fencing, irrigation, etc. I think the wire is about $50 and the metal post about $7, but I was able to get 5 tomatoe cages and 3 smaller pepper cages with the leftover wire. Thanks so much! The new plants disappearing over night (reminds me of the old bugs bunny cartoons when the plants were disappearing as fast as Elmer Fudd planted them ) to the plants root systems being chewed up so the plants don’t produce much if any food . Cut the cattle panel while you are there so you can actually fit it in your vehicle. But I do like the gauge used to make the livestock panels. Take a second to straighten each one so when they are set in place in the soil, they all go in evenly. Will have to buy the spawn to start, but after that, (if it works), I hope they will reproduce on their own. Thank you . Hope to see some of them later on in the season. Comes in a large roll in Lowes or Home Depot. Good luck and send pictures of your happy tomatoes in their new home! Their materials - cattle panel made of heavy-gauge galvanized wire or power … Tomato Cages Made With Cow Panels. (BTW, is your planting template shown in the photo 6″x6″? Our biggest concern with these panels are the extremely razor-sharp ends left after cutting them. She did show just a small snippet of our setup towards the bottom of this post: http://simplyresourceful.blogspot.com/2015/05/baker-creek-spring-planting-festival.html. I congratulate you on your find. I love hearing success stories on all the different methods. I grew indeterminate tomatoes on each side. It’s like trying to realistically control deer–nearly impossible. I’ve been using cattle panel segments for years also. 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