You will need: bolt cutters, pliers, and "concrete reenforcing mesh" (available at hardware and home improvement stores). This mesh comes in a (large and heavy) roll and has a grid of 6 inch squares, large enough to easily fit a grown man's hand inside for the ease of tending and harvesting the tomatoes. A pair of gloves are also recommended, but not required I suppose.
|The metal may rust, but if painted will not.|
Since the mesh is intended to reenforce concrete you can imagine that it is heavy duty stuff...well up to the task of supporting tomatoes! (I don't know about you, but I find the standard tomato cage to be a frightfully flimsy things.) That is not the case here. These are some real hum-dingers....not going to collapse or bend out of shape very darn easily!
Each square, as I mentioned, is 6 inches across. We are making our cages in three sizes so that they nest inside each other for easy out-of-season storage. We are making 4 ft, 4 1/2 ft, and 5 ft cages
When cutting the length of mesh for each cage its important to actually add an extra square to your desired length. Thus to make a 4ft cage you cut 4 1/2 feet of the mesh (which translates to ten squares). For a 5 ft cage you cut 5 1/2 feet of mesh (12 squares) and so on. The reason for the extra square is that ultimately the flat piece of mesh is made into a tube and you need that extra six inches to make the hook closure that holds the cage in its tube shape. The extra six inches is folded in half to make a sort of hook which clasps over the square on the opposite end of the section of mesh. Just wait and see...it will make sense. (I hope!)
|Matt, bending the hook clasps.|
|A close up shot of one of the hooks being bent.|
The video above shows Matt bending the extra six inches into the hook closure. The video below shows Matt slipping the hooks into the squares on the opposite end of the mesh section to create the tube shaped, 3-D cage. The videos are a bit dark since we were working in the garage, but I think you'll get my point.
|Snipping off the bottom so that there are, essentially, stakes to be sunk into the ground.|
|This is what the "stakes" or little legs look like. It is also what the extra six inches used for the hook closures look like before being bent into hooks.|
|Note the little feet on the bottom.|