You may chuckle at the name - but "Stake-A-Cage" really is the best way to describe the trellis system we came up with a few years ago to effectively and inexpensively tie up our
tomatoes and peppers. We get a lot of questions about it on the blog - so we thought today we would explain it in detail, along with details at the end of the post on how to make your own.
A few years back, with the garden planted, and about 45 tomato plants growing quicker than we imagined - we knew we needed to give them support and fast! After suffering sticker shock at the prices of tomato cages and stakes in the store, we decided to see what we could come up with ourselves.
We had some left-over welded wire fencing from building the outdoor run for the chicken coop, along with wooden stakes we had used to stake out the area where the coop and barn would go. So - in desperate need to tie up some tomato plants that were falling over - we used wire cutters to quickly cut the fencing into small grid panels. Next, we attached them to the wooden stakes with fencing nails we had on hand - and the Stake-A-Cage was born.
After we put a few up - we started realizing that we had something! Not only did they go together easily - they looked great and had a lot of advantages over the commercial cages or old wooden stakes we had used in the past.
For starters, it combines the best of the two old ways used to tie up tomatoes; the strength of strong wooden stake with the ease of a wire trellis cage.
Although stakes are strong in the soil - it's always been hard to tie the vines to them as the plants grow larger throughout the season. And although cages provide a better support for the tomato plants - they become hard to pick through as the plants grow. Not to mention our cages always seemed grow right out of the ground and topple over as the season progressed.
Hence, the use of the Stake A Cage. The support of a 4' long wooden stake - attached to an open-faced wire mesh grid. Strong and durable and cheap! It combines the durability of staking tomatoes with the ease of a cage. Better yet, by keeping the wire grid flat and not making a true cage - you can tie your tomatoes easily to the grid - and when it comes time to pick - you won't have to reach through the cages to get to the goods. The fruit and vegetables are right in front of you - and easy to harvest.
We have used ours now for three seasons and they are still going strong - and you can make them yourself with little effort for about $2 a piece! That's a far cry from the $5 to $25 you can pay for cages, stakes and trellises found in the stores!
How To Make Them:
Wire Cutters, Hammer, A Chop Saw or Jig Saw
2x2 Lumber For Stakes
Fencing Nails (Sometimes referred to as U - Nails)
30" High Welded Wire Galvanized Fence with 2" x 4" Mesh Grid (You can buy a 25' roll which makes enough for about 16 cages for tomatoes, or 25 for peppers)
There are a couple of options to make or buy your stakes. If you are starting from scratch, the easiest option is to buy inexpensive 2x2x8 framing lumber at your local home improvement / lumber store (usually for around$1.25. each) If you buy them in the standard 8' pieces, you can simply cut in half to make 2 from each board.
After using up the grade stakes we had on hand, we made the remainder of our stakes from scrap 2x4's and 2x6's. Running them through the table saw lengthwise to make 2x2's and then cutting them into 4 foot pieces.
To make a sharp point on the stakes - we then used a chop saw (jig saw works great too) to cut angled points into the end of one side. If you angle all four sides - it makes for a sharper point to drive into the ground.
***One extra note here: Since we use these in the garden and around our plants - we have always used regular, untreated lumber. Yes, it's true that it will not last as long as treated lumber - but if you store them each winter - you should be able to use them for a good 5 years. When they do start to go bad - you can simply remove the metal grid, and put on a new stake for the next 5 years! The wire mesh is galvanized, so it will not rust and can be re-used over and over.
Once you have your stakes ready - the rest is a piece of cake! Roll out the galvanized welded wire roll, and using wire cutters - just snip off 18" wide sections for tomatoes, or 12" sections if you will be using them for peppers.
Center the wire grid on the stake with the bottom of the wire about 16" from the bottom of the stake. (This is to allow the stake to be driven in to that depth) Then nail in 3 fencing nails, securing the wire to the stake. You have your very own Stake-A-Cage!
- Jim and Mary
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I had to pull the carpet up in one of my bedrooms and I didnt know what to put down on the bare concrete floor, so it stayed concrete for a while. I eventually decided to use the room as
an art studio and wanted to have a wood floor in there. I decided to put my trompe l'oiel knowledge to work and paint the concrete floor in a bamboo style similar to my bamboo floor in my living room and I love the way it turned out. People have to look twice or be told its painted. a true trompe l'oiel effect.
This is just a simple little story about how I finally got all the grease off the cabinets above my stove.
I have had a dirty little secret!Everyone always tells me how clean my house is. It's not really. Not since I've had kids. You've seen those cute little signs, Excuse the mess, we are busy making memories or Excuse the mess, we live here? Well that's not really my style. In fact, my house is nothing like the clean it used to be before the kids. I've grown more accustomed to the mess, but so many little things tend to get over looked these days. Many people have exciting goals like running a marathon or skydiving (and I may have just become the biggest loser because I just googled Common goals people have, because I couldn't come up with 2 good ideas), you know what I've always wanted? To put my house on the market and have the ad say, "Mrs. Clean lives here". I'm not kidding, I actually told my realtor I wanted that on my add. She said, your house will sell itself. OK, she was right, but I really wanted that at the time. One thing I've been over-looking lately is my kitchen cabinets. I'm home cleaning today and thought, maybe today's the day to get that grease off the cabinets. Now keep in mind, these are just the cabinets over the stove, and grease is always building up on these cabinets. I wipe down my cabinets frequently, since they are white and show any dirt, but I do tend to "overlook" these top cabinets because I never could seem to get the grime off with much success. I have those god-awful therma-foil and for lack of a better term the surface is "pockey". That means there is a little texture that allows dirt and grease to accumulate. The picture shows best how greasy these cabinets were. I've tried many products before, but today I decided to go for some simple soft scrub and a warm dish rag. I love the lemon scent and use this for a lot of my cleaning. I poured it on my dishcloth and just rubbed it on the grease, and just like that, all of the grease and grime came off. I've tried many other cleaners and de-greasers and seriously never got such great results with barely any elbow grease at all. I might suggest if you are working over your head that you wear some protective eyewear, because trust me when I say, you don't want your break from cleaning to involve trying to get soap out of your eye! Just sayin. Check out the before and afters. It's really pretty amazing!