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$5 Tomato Towers that Last Forever

This special recipe for Tomato Towers That Last Forever And Cost $5 comes to you from author Joel Karsten in his book, Straw Bale Gardens Complete:


“Growing the perfect tomato starts with the perfect tomato cage. Build your own for less than $5 each. All you need is a bolt-cutter, some zip ties, and a roll of concrete-reinforcing wire from the home center or lumber yard.

“Just like the name says, this wire grid is made to be buried in concrete for reinforcing concrete, so it doesn’t easily crack. The wire is inexpensive and measures 5 feet wide by any length you desire. Use the bolt-cutter to cut off a 6- or 7-foot section, depending on how tall you want the cages to be. Roll the wire panel up in the opposite direction from the way it was unrolled. When the sides come together, use the zip ties to fasten them. This makes a tall, 2-foot diameter cylindrical cage that is absolutely perfect for growing tomatoes and for many other climbing plants.

“The ends where you cut the wire to length, will be sticking down on the bottom like little steel fingers. Push them down into the straw bale and the cage will be fixed in place for the season. Reinforce the cage with a fence post if you are using it on top of a straw bale, or else it can get very top-heavy and may fall over. You can also stick with the concrete theme and use a length of rebar or two to stake the cage.

“The openings in the wire panels are big (usually 6 x 6 inches), so reaching in to harvest tomatoes inside the cage is really easy. At the end of the season, if storage space is a problem, simply cut the zip ties off, and flatten out the panels in your garden. The panels will rust over the years, but mine are still going strong after 15 years. I used to make these and sell them at the farmers’ market when I was younger. People loved them, and I am still sure most are still using them all these many years later.”

—Joel Karsten, Author of Straw Bale Gardens Complete

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