Return to the Growing Tomatoes Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
CRW tomato cage question

Posted by bookjunky4life 5 Central IL (My Page) on
Sun, Oct 2, 11 at 21:19

I bought a 5x150' roll the other day for $80. I also bought some "glossy sunrise red" paint and sponge brushes to try to paint some of my cages (because I'm a glutton for punishment and must not have enough items on my to-do list).

I have not started cutting the roll for cages yet though. I am unsure on my cage diameter and trying to figure out the most efficient diameter that will still get me the most cages per roll. I found some posts in my search that incidcated anywhere from 20 inch diameter to 32 inch diameter, some indicated they got about 30 cages per roll. To make a 30 diameter cage, each cage would have to be just shy of 100 inches of length (circumference = diameter x 3.14). 150 feet is 1800 inches divided by 100 inches per cage would only allow me 18 cages. So I need some advice here.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

When I did mine last spring and this spring, I wanted as many 18"-diameter cages as possible. They worked out a couple inches smaller in actual practice, though -- about 16".

I made each cage with 8 "closed" squares and a 9th "open" square. I bent the end wires of the 9th squares into hooks to complete the cylinders. I didn't crimp the hooks all the way closed, so it's easy to unhook the cages, lay them down and cover them for makeshift low tunnels in early spring.

It was tough to work with the ends of the rolls, but, aside from being a little crooked, both end-of-roll cages are fine. I only got 31 cages out of the first roll. I thought maybe the squares (counting the vertical wire) were just slightly larger than 6", but, when I measured them, they were actually slightly smaller. At 9 squares x 6" per square, it appears about 10' of wire was missing from that first roll last spring. I don't know about the roll we got this spring since I used part of it for flower bed fencing.

With our short, cool growing season (May 20-Sept 20, average July/August highs: 82/80), we're able to get by with skinny cages. Several cultivars would be a lot happier in roomier cages for sure. Eva Purple Ball, Big Rainbow and Sungold come readily to mind :) You might want roomier cages if you're blessed with a longer and warmer growing season.

I think you'll like your painted cages. Like I said above, we used part of a roll of CRW this spring to fence our dogs out of flower beds. We cut the wire to whatever heights were appropriate for each bed, then sopped on high-gloss white Rustoleum. The fences turned out very attractive and for a fraction of what garden fencing would have cost.

Almost forgot, if you haven't seen it, you might look for Korney's post about how to cut the bottom wire to keep all the cage height but still have respectable, built-in stakes.

Good luck!


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Mrs. B (my sister just moved from Cheyenne,Wyoming to Texas, btw)-

I have read Korney's post. I plan on doing just that. Makes perfect sense but I don't know if I would have thought of it on my own.

Yeah, I have probably a month on either side of your growing season and average July/August highs probably in the mid to upper 90s, even higher this summer with the heatwave.

I did the math at 20 inch diameter cages and I could make 28 cages. I want to make the cages roomy enough, but not anymore than necessary.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Instead of bending the ends I use electrical wire ties. It is so much easier. They are not expensive and last for years. Buy them from an electrical supply house instead of a big box store if you need a lot of them.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Here's another idea. I just put up a couple of straight fences and weave the plants in and out of the mesh as they grow. It's much less labor intensive than making individual cages. I also use galvanized fence rather than CRW. Even if you paint the CRW, it will rust after a few years. The only disadvantage is that the largest mesh I could find in the galvanized was 1 X 4. That's a little small, but I live with it.
John A


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

John - I have read all of the different options and considered them, but I like having individual cages. I could have used galvanized welded wire fence (which I use for endless things around our farm) but its mesh is only 2x4". I've made a few cages out of it before and cut it to a 4x8" hole to get the tomatoes out, but I inevitably cut myself where I cut the wires and they are nasty cuts.

I may end up doing the Florida Weave style with cattle panels in 2012 because I won't have enough cages built yet for all of my tomatoes.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I'm still looking for suggestions on cage diameter. I was just trying to visualize diameters by using the tape measure: 18 inches seems way to skinny, but 32 inches seems way too big. I'm thinking maybe 24 inches is a good in between and I could still make about 23 cages.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I've made CRW cages and currently use Texas Tomato cages. I got tired of the rust on CRW and storing them in the off-season was hard unless you disassembled them. The Texas ones aren't cheap, but they're very convenient, don't rust, and fold flat for storage.

As to your question about diameter, I had the choice between 18 and 24 inch cages, and chose 24. The rep. said 24 was by far the most popular, and I've been very happy with the size. Thinking back I'm pretty sure my CRW homemade ones were about that same size.

PS, be VERY careful when you're cutting and assembling them. You may already know this, but the wire can snap while you're trying to flatten or roll it and those cut ends can move fast and make very painful injuries!

Good luck!


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

10 squares is the best option. I have all sizes, made over the last 30 years or so, and I think the 10 squares = 5', = 17.xxx diameter, is the best option. I've made 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, squares. The larger ones seem like they would be better, but in my garden, the 10 squares are the best.
There's a lot of previous discussion of this in here somewhere.
JMO,
Tom


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I work with rolled fencing a lot, so luckily I'm well aware of what can happen if you don't know what you're doing. I was working with some 6' welded wire upright a few weeks ago and took off the one wire that was holding that end and got whopped right in the nose with a sharp end. Felt like somebody punched me, but it didn't bruise or bleed much.

Tom- Does a smaller diameter help support the plant more as it grows taller?

I'm hoping to have time before winter to get my cages cut to length at least, if not painted. However, with fall garden cleanup and house renovating, and almost no daylight in the evenings, its hard to fit everything in.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

  • Posted by bob_b Sunset 14 Ca. (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 5, 11 at 11:25

I bend my CRW into 24" diameters. With Early Girls, larger would even be better. I use hog nose rings to fasten them. I bought a cheap pair of hog nose pliers and a box of rings, and they have lasted for years. The rust is no problem; the rust only progresses so far. I leave them out all winter and do not disassemble them
RB


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I will just bend the cut horizontals around so that they can be taken apart easily. I'll probably store mine in our barn or lean-to.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I hope your sister will be happy in Texas. Sometimes I long for warmer weather, but I think I'd miss Cheyenne if ever I were to leave.

About the time I was trying to decide on a cage diameter, I read about a poster's tomato plants collapsing in their cages, dragged down from the weight of the fruits. If I recall correctly, the cages were fairly large, maybe 30" or so. It seems a slightly narrower cage, in which the branches can extend outward and then be tucked/woven back in if necessary, might help support the a plant that's heavy with fruit.

That said, balancing the need for support with the need for air circulation (and all your other needs) is partly art, I suppose. In our case, the climate is usually quite dry in the first place, and the nearly constant wind pretty well takes care of circulation :) It might be helpful to keep in mind that each inch of diameter makes a quite a difference in area. Of course, there's also the option of making a few different sizes. HTH


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

bookjunky4life: "Tom- Does a smaller diameter help support the plant more as it grows taller?"

Exactly.
The larger ones are OK also, I put cherries in the larger cages, particularly Sungold, as the cherries seem more rampant than most.
That said, I think the 10 square cages are generally the best for most plants as they do provide more support. I don't prune either and tend to let the branches grow through the cages as they are better supported that way. Some stake their cages also, I don't unless they topple over more than once. It usually doesn't hurt them too much, maybe a greenie or 2 knocked off, but that's about it.
I was going to try using tent pegs through the bottom rungs this year, but I didn't have any occasion until really late in the season and I just didn't bother, just carefully pick them up and stick the bottom of the cages in the ground again. I wonder if anyone tried this?
I also use older cages for cukes, pole beans, tall peas, etc..
Some other tips: invest in a pair of bolt cutters, some leather gloves, and wear a long shirt and pants.
Happy Gardening,
Tom


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Talked it over with the husband last night. I'm still going to play around with them a little before final decision but we're probably going to go in the 22/24 inch range. We have a bunch of old lumber we're going to cut down to tall wooden stakes and use one per cage. We get really really strong winds in the spring during storms, 70 mph and excess on a fairly regular basis. We live on the prairie and there's just no protection for the garden.

Check on bolt cutters and gloves. I'll only be wearing long shirt and pants if weather permits that. I'm pretty brave, or stupid :-)


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Also depends on how many cages you want to make. Obviously 150/5=30 150/6=25. I also use plastic tie wraps to hold some together or tie them to stakes, because after unbending them a couple of times the wires break off. Get the UV resistant ones if you use them. Cheapest place is usually on-line or an electrical supply house.
Good Luck,
Tom


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I made my cages into 24" diameter all the tomatoes collapsed inside.So now I'm thinking of putting a rebar inside to tie those tomatoes or make my cages smaller.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I've decided to do 60" length which should give around 19" diameter. I also decided I will use wire ties. We also cleaned the massive pile of lumber out of our shed and I found a bunch of old 2"x4"s to cut down for stakes.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

"I also decided I will use wire ties."

Good choice! Saves a lot of cuts, sore hands, time, and aggravation!

I had forgot about your post. After seeing it again I want to give you my results. I cut mine at the 12th hole, 5" per hole, overlap the cut end for extra strength. So mine are 60" in length, 55" actual length after the overlap. I haven't measured the actual diameter. I can if you want to know.

They are pretty much perfect for all of my different toms. They support well without any extra tying up and/or staking. The better boys, and parks whopper needed no attention. The early girls and brandy wine needed to be weaved back in because the limbs were hanging outside and would have broke.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Wertach- do you mind measuring what your actual diameter came out to. If my math is correct, it should be 17".


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

bookjunky, I will measure them as soon as I get home today!


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Circumference = Pi X Diameter. So Diameter = Circumference / Pi or 55/3.14 which = 17.51


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Sorry I took so long, they are 16 1/2 inches.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Pretty close. The discrepancy is probably due to the cages not being bent in perfect circles.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

"Pretty close. The discrepancy is probably due to the cages not being bent in perfect circles."

I measured several and in every different direction! Pretty round! LOL

I think where mine varied was the measurement of 5" per hole. I measured from the outside of each wire so I lost maybe about 1/16th or so per space? Too much math for me at the moment, been a hard day here at work.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

  • Posted by tomakers SE MA Zone 5/6 or % (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 28, 11 at 5:58

I've never actually measured mine, just calculated the circumference. 10 squares is best. 17.xx"
Tom


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

I much prefer 24" diameter cages. If you only make a few, that will be good for everything. If you want 40-60 or more cages, like I have, and have limited storage area, make 1/3 of them 14" diameter, 1/3 of them 12" diameter, and 1/3 of them 10" diameter.

You can then nest them and store them in 1/3 the space they would otherwise need. It's a pain to stack and unstack, but in my experience, easier than moving them out of your way many times every year.

If you have enough room that storage is not a problem, never-mind!

Lucky you!


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Maybe a month ago, I hauled my roll of CRW out to a section of the yard where I believed I could complete unroll it. I didn't unroll it until last night, by myself with no mishaps (it wasn't nearly as springy as my huband predicted), but 150' is a long way and I was probably 10-15 feet short of getting it completely unrolled. The purpose of which was to count exactly how many squares there were across and divide that evenly so I wouldn't be wasting any fence. I'm over that idea. I'm just going to make them 10 squares. Although if I am closing them with zip ties, I will be wasting one square per cage because I won't need the cut off ends to bend over to close the cage.

Also, I had wintersown WAY too many tomatoes, as usual. I have about 100 planted out and growing well (one even has maters on it) and getting big enough they are flopping and need the cages. I have 6 rows of peas on three 16-ft long cattle panels. The peas are done so I'm going to pull them and plant the extra tomatoes in their place and try a Florida weave.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Does anyone have photos of the cages made with the CRW. I'm not positive I even know what that stands for........but I think it is fencing that comes in a roll with big square holes. I've been thinking of using that stuff, but have never seen any made. Beside that, I have a small garden and only room for about 5 or 6 tomato plants. My plants grow very large, so the round cages available locally don't do the trick. I'm determined to make something strong and stable. We have nasty winds here too.........so was wondering how they are staked to make them not topple over when the plant is big and heavy and the wind comes up.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Posted by tdscpa z5 NWKS (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 29, 11 at 7:03

CORRECTION! EDIT! DO OVER!
I much prefer 24" diameter CRM cages. If you only make a few, that will be good for everything. If you want 40-60 or more cages, like I have, and have limited storage area, make 1/3 of them 14 squares circumference, 1/3 of them 12 squares circumference, and 1/3 of them 10 squares circumference.

You can then nest them and store them in 1/3 the space they would otherwise need. It's a pain to stack and unstack, but in my experience, easier than moving them out of your way many times every year.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

quiltsrcool, I don't have any pics, but CRW is concrete reinforcement wire.

The links below should help you.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2002-06-01/Using-Wire-Mesh.aspx#axzz2KhvfzaPf

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato cages made from concrete reinforcement wire.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

  • Posted by nil13 z21 Mt. Washington L (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 12:26

I don't paint mine so that I can hit them with a propane hot mop at the end of the season to kill off any foliage pathogens. I also break the CRW into half the circumference with hog rings on either side joining them together. This is so that when I take them apart for storage I can stack them all together very easily.


 o
RE: CRW tomato cage question

Does anyone have photos of the cages made with the CRW. I'm not positive I even know what that stands for........but I think it is fencing that comes in a roll with big square holes. I've been thinking of using that stuff, but have never seen any made.

Many past discussions here about them with pictures but I don't know if they are still available but there are many YouTube videos on them. Linked one below

And Google pulls up 100's of images of them. CRW pics

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: CRW cages


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Growing Tomatoes Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here