Vertical Gardening!
Make the Most of Your Space With a Vegetable Cage

4 months ago I gave birth. To this …

A plant. I’m sure you read all about it in the medical journals. It was a natural delivery. No epidural or drugs or anything. I’m a champ.

Along with all the seedlings I grew, I also bought an acorn squash plant from a nursery. It was teeny, tiny when I bought it. It is not teeny, tiny anymore.

I plant acorn squash every year in the same spot for the same reason with the same consequences. Much like people, plants have places they’re happy in. And they all have their own individual happy places. Where your happy place might be a Sound of Music inspired drag show at midnight, a basil plant’s happy place is a large pot in the sun.

My squash plant’s happy place is right in front of my porch by the front door. It grows like crazy there, and I always have squash to eat right into February.

The consequence to this, is every year the plant outgrows its tiny space and takes over the grass with such a vengeance the letter carrier needs to give it a wide berth and occasionally beats it with a stick. She often swears at it. The squash plant swears back.

The grass dies, it looks gross and the vine is messy looking. Every year I swear I’m going to do something about my sprawling squash plant other than swear at it. See? The stupid plant has everyone swearing. I’ve tried to run the plant up on the porch railing, I’ve tried tomato cages (clearly not thinking clearly) and lattice work behind the plant to tie it to. None of this stuff worked.

So this year I decided while I was making a comfortable home for the chickens, I’d also make a comfortable home for the squash plant. George. George the squash plant. In a related story, I think I might need more human friends.

The purpose of the vegetable cage is to increase your growing space by allowing the plant to grow up as opposed to out. And they are very easy to build.

Materials

Hardware Cloth (available at your local hardware store)

Tin snips or heavy duty scissors

Rebar (or whatever other strong stick like things you have handy … bamboo … broom poles ..)

Wire

Hammer

Measure out how much hardware cloth you need. I measured my plant and ascertained I would need a square that was around 2’6″ all on all sides.

You can use this same method of building a vegetable cage for any climbing, rambling vegetable by the way.

Cut your hardware cloth to the size you need. Mine is 3′ high (which is the width of the hardware cloth) by 10′.

When you’re cutting your hardware cloth, make sure you leave one end with the tails on. You’ll see what I mean later on.

To fold the hardware cloth into a square, run it along a length of wood and fold up, or if you have a good eye and hands, just bend it by hand.

Shape your cloth into a box, then weave the tails of the one end of hardware cloth through the holes in the other end. Fold the ends over and your box will be secure.

Place your hardware cloth box over your vegetable and then hammer your rebar into the corners to give the box strength and help it keep its shape.

Wire the rebar to the hardware cloth.

If you’re fancy like I am, cause only fancy people have acorn squash growing in their front yard, you can cut the rebar level with the hardware cloth.

To do this you’ll need a zip cut. It’s a tool that has a dangerous revolving sharp thing that’ll cut through metal. But it makes sparks and you’ll feel pretty cool using it. Be very careful though.

And there you have it. The Vegetable Cage. Took about an hour.

Give it a few more weeks and this plant will have crawled up and will be spilling over the top of the hardware cloth. I suspect it’ll crawl all the way up and then all the way back down again, but it’ll keep the plant off my grass and contained. If it weren’t right in front of my porch I could have made the Vegetable Cage higher. But it is, so I didn’t.

Other Plants for a Vegetable Cage

Cucumbers

Pumpkins

All squash varieties

Zucchini

Beans

In closing, I’d like to remind you all that it is not normal to name your plants. It is, however, normal to find your happy place at a Sound of Music inspired drag show.