|3/4″ PVC electrical conduit arches
When I moved from CT to SC a couple of years ago I sold my extensive collection of gardening paraphernalia for the sake of space. I kept the important stuff like my assorted Felco pruners Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner
and Korean hand plows EZ Digger Garden Hand Plow
, two things I could not possibly live without! But when I got settled in SC and started my vegetable garden this year I realized I was missing something important and potentially expensive. Tomato Cages! I had the cool swirly ones, the big square cages and a few others that I’d tried over the years and had sold them all at our big moving sale. I love perusing the Gardener’s Supply Catalog www.gardeners.com
because they have lots of great stuff that looks pretty and is very functional. The problem for me is that it gets expensive when you are buying enough to support 12 or more tomato plants if you are planning to do any canning which I do. Mother Earth News had some great ideas for building your own Indestructible Tomato Cages
(follow link to plans) and I went so far as to purchase the 3″ PVC pipes (very inexpensive!) but since some cutting and drilling is required we never got around to making them–though I still plan to. In the interim I stumbled across an idea out of desperation for something to use quickly as we were going to be in VA for a couple of months and my tomatoes were sorely in need of staking before I left. I rummaged through our shed looking for anything I could fashion into a support and came across some 3/4′ PVC electrical conduit that was flexible. I bent it in between my row of 6 plants and just shoved the two edges into the ground about 8-10 inches deep which was very easy since my garden soil was nice and loose. Later I added a second one. I used flexible ties to attach the tomato plants to the conduit and it was done in minutes and for a total cost of less than $3. They are indestructible and cheap–also lightweight and easy to store. They can also be spray painted in fun colors as an accent. Cut into shorter lengths they can be pushed into the ground as a smaller arch and used as a support for floating row covers. They could be fashioned into a trellis using zip ties or a collapsible tent style support for cukes, peas and melons. Also a bean tower or even a garden arbor! There is no end to what you can make out of them with a hacksaw, some zip ties or twine and your imagination! I can’t wait to get out to my local home improvement store and clean them out of all the PVC electrical conduit that I can carry. Be aware that it also comes in 1/2″ and 1″ diameters and will be less flexible but stronger the larger the diameter you choose. Don’t trust yourself with a saw? Head out armed with the measurements you need and the store will usually cut them for you if you ask nicely! Happy staking!