Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tomato Cages

 I know this doesn't look like a gardening picture but hey, if you can't show off your grand kids on your blog then what good is it for? I promise I'll get to the garden but first, this is our youngest and her mother, what was she thinking, put her in the Little Miss Wright Days contest.

She won her category and has declared to everyone that she is a princess. No she didn't win for her twirling ability.

 And NO..... it wasn't because she's a can can girl from Los Vegas. 
 It's because she is so.... cute. LOL She leaned into the mike and sang, "There were three in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over, and they all rolled over and (she tilted her head cute to one side and then sang) one fell out ( after which she put her hand over her mouth and feigned an Oh My expression.) I had her sing just the three verses, though there are ten, but I figured if that didn't push the 'oh how cute' button then more wouldn't help. This photo made me laugh just like this sweet little girl does.
Now to the gardening part of my blog.
See these nasty little beasties? Just when I thought I was going to get plums these arrive and I fear for the lives of the sweet juicy purple fruit. I've waited years for once only a foot high plants to become a small tree and get their acts together. For the three years my two plum trees never bloomed at the same time. Always one and then the other, weird things after all they are the same age. When they finally both blossom together, tiny plums forming, grr.....along comes these aphids. I'm lousy at killing the things. Not that I have any sympathy for them and would mind putting out an extermination order. No sirry, this is war and casualties is the name of the game.

Only in the past aphids have defeated me over and over again when I've tried to eradicate them in the basement while growing tomato plants under lights. That is why I no longer use soil from outside for my pots. They always hitched a ride and though I never saw them in the garden, presto, there they were on my tomatoes in the basement.

Now, I've been spraying these things with soapy, oily water, and I've tried organic sprays from the store and non organic sprays on my tomatoes in the basement. Nothing worked then and I'm not hopeful now. So if you've some good advice like the newspaper on the grass, lay it on me. I've a feeling I will be desperate soon. I did have some success with diamtemaceous earth once when I had a greenhouse. Hm... it has stopped raining and the wind isn't howling today maybe I'll dust the small trees with the powder.
Now I wish to discuss tomatoe cages. The best ones I've found are these I built out of tore up cow panels. I cut three small sections with bolt cutters.

I've tried four sections but the wind catches them broadside and blows them over. I used wood stakes pounded into the ground to keep them upright and they still ended up listing badly to one side.
Dropping them to three panels helped but they still couldn't stand on their own with plastic around them until I cut the bottom horizontal bars on the lower section. Now when the wind howls, as it often does, I'm not woken up in the night worrying whether my cages have collapsed on top of my tomatoes, breaking them off. Pushing the bottom section down into the ground stabilzes the whole thing. The triangular shape channels the wind to the side, deflecting its force, and I've a renewable cage. The livestock are so kind, NOT, and occasionally bend panels to the point they have to be replaced giving me an unexaustable source of cages.  So if you already use cow panels, then try the waste not want not theory and turn them into tomatoe and pepper cages. The plastic I duck tape around the cages is off the hay stack.
And the string I bind the cages together with is baling twine from the livestock hay. All I had to buy was duck tape to tape the plastic.

The baling twine I also use to mark off my garden sections. Saves buying string. This is two bean rows planted just inside each string length.  If you look carefully you can see two pea rows to the left with a shortened cow panel for them to adhere to. The bottom sections are cut out just like the tomatoe cages. Peas need a little more than each other to stand up to our wind, hence the trellis.

Tomorrow I'll tell you what I was doing during the long silence of Monday and Tuesday. You'll either be shaking your head while chuckling like my doctor was when he said, "You are so weird." He means it in a loving way. Or you'll be reaching for the Kleenex. Intrigued? I hope so.

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