Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY PVC Tomato Cage

Novice gardeners that we are, our first actual growing season has yielded some humbling lessons. The first? That those tomato cages they sell at hardware and garden stores are an utter waste of time and money. Our tomato plants outgrew them almost instantly, which was awesome (our tomato plants were thriving!) and a problem (our tomatoes are falling over themselves and snapping at the stalk!). Obviously, something had to be done. 

Enter: a desperate Google search while standing in the aisle at Lowe's, and this post on Instructables about how to make a tomato cage from PVC pipe. Ten seconds later we were in the PVC aisle; twenty minutes later we were on our way home with the necessary materials; a few days later we had easily constructed the ultimate DIY tomato cage.

Tomato palace.

Supported stalks.

So far, it's working well - a million times better than the flimsy tomato cages we had been using. We've been loosely tying the stalks from the plants onto the intersections, and it's holding up really beautifully. This system gives our plants plenty of space to stretch out, while at the same time letting in the light that the fruit needs to grow and ripen. The only downside is that PVC won't last forever - with damage from the sun and the elements, Nathan estimates that it might last two years. But two years is okay with me - especially if it means we have time to think of a more sustainable solution, without risking our spring crop of tomatoes. Whew!

Do you use any creative alternatives in your garden? How are your tomatoes doing? And does anyone have a good salsa recipe? Thanks, and happy Friday!