I've had a veggie patch for over ten years now. The one thing that I never did well was train my tomatoes or climbing plants. I never worked out a way to get a structure in place, that I could relocate each season, for the peas and beans. I always hated tying up the tomatoes. It seemed like a waste of that special tape or tube or cloth or even old stockings. And the job never seemed to be complete or very effective.

My father watched me work and I guess he had the same issue in his garden. Being the brilliant man he is, he came up with a solution that was low tech and works. I've used this technique for the last 3 years, my neighbours and friends are now beginning to use this solution and it seems to be quite popular. Now I've been asked by some other associates to produce a bit of a tutorial so I thought I might share the joy.

The simple solution is cylinders or tubes made of square weld mesh, held in place with a garden stake and a cable tie. Simply placing a cylinder of mesh over a tomato plant and holding it in place with a stake means you don't have to do any significant work except keep the weeds down and pick the tomatoes.

There are commercial tomato cages available but they mesh isn't as close as I am recommending. The commercial ones still need some tying up on occasions. They are also very expensive, for what they are. I usually plant around 16-24 tomato plants and that means a lot of money.

I have a collection of 32 mesh cylinders now and I've spent about $60 on building them. I have enough materials to build another 10 cylinders at least, so this isn't expensive. Especially when you see that the construction work is done once and the product will be useable for at least the next 10 years.

Step 1: What you need

Materials needed
  1. Several metres of wire weld mesh. 100 to 150mm square mesh works well.
  2. Maspro netting clips (optional but really useful and highly recommended) [There are probably other brands with a similar product, Maspro just happens to be what is available locally.]
Tools needed
  1. Safety glasses. (Not shown in the photo but really important.)
  2. Wire cutters or regular pliers
  3. Maspro clip pliers (again, optional but highly recommended)
  4. Garden stakes
  5. Cable ties (or Panduit straps or zippy ties)
For those who have never come across Maspro netting clips before. They are similar to staples. They are shaped like the letter 'C' and when squeezed with the appropriate plier like tool the close to make a complete circle. These are incredibly quick and easy for constructing things out of wire by providing reliable joins with one hand while allowing your other hand to hold stuff in place.

If you don't have Maspro netting clips do not despair. The low budget, low tech and remote area version makes use of the dag ends of the mesh to join up ends and make cylinders.
Dunno ... sounds like you're wired to be intelligent, creative, and efficient. None of those is a bad thing, and you get fresh veggies too? Where's the downside?
You are too kind. Thank you.

About This Instructable


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Bio: I'm a computer systems engineer living on an acre in the Adelaide hills of South Australia.
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