Waaaay back in May of 2013, I wrote a blog post about building PVC cages to house my tomatoes, and promised to let you know if the time, money, and effort were worth it. Here we are, nearly the next spring, and I'm finally getting around to the update. This is probably the perfect time of year to write this post, because if you choose to go down the sexy PVC tomato cage route, it's a good time to gather your materials and start building to get a jump on this year's spring gardening.
The verdict, you ask? I loved the PVC tomato cages and they were oh so sexy. The only thing I would consider changing is making the arms (horizontal pieces) shorter, so the plants are held tighter. I cut them at 8 inches, but would consider making them 7 inches instead. The 8 inch arms make the cage 20 inches square, which is roomy. Seven inch arms would make a 16 inch square cage, which would be a little tighter. I hesitate to say I'd definitely make the arms shorter, because last summer was a hot one in Texas, and in a more hospitable year, the plants might be bushier, in which case the longer arms (as they are now) will be better.
One of the things I liked best about the PVC tomato cages was that I could tie twine to the arms to support droopy tomato branches until the plant was high enough that the branches could drape across the arms...
...and I could tie unwanted or damaged CDs to them to help frighten off the birds. (It's not such a good trick, really. The birds figure out pretty quickly that those flashing discs can't hurt them.)
The cages are surprisingly sturdy. I never lost one entirely, but a couple of arms did come loose during strong storms, or perhaps when a tubby raccoon tried to hoist himself up on the cage to snag a tomato. But those instances were easily fixed and the tomato plants weren't damaged.
I was really happy that the cages were so easy to take apart and store. The arms and legs literally twist off the crosses, elbows, and tees.
For storage, I ended up grouping the legs from one cage together and tying them tightly with twine. These little bundles fit neatly on shelves or rafters in my shed. I dumped the arms in a big mineral lick tub the cows have cleaned out.
I popped the elbows, tees, and crosses in buckets, and stored these and the mineral lick tub in the shed, too. Pretty easy, all in all, and they don't take up much room.
I built ten cages and used every one, and am thinking about building more. I'll try and constrain myself for this season, but I do love a good tomato, so who knows what'll happen next season?
Have you tried anything new with PVC in your garden recently?