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I’ve shared before the unexpected garden treasure I received from my elderly neighbor next door, whose husband planted bamboo some years before his passing, hoping to furnish the growth to our local zoo’s red pandas. The zoo turned him down, evidently having certified food sources for these valued animals, but the bamboo next door grows on.
I accepted the bamboo, planning to use it to support my pole beans. (And I do have several bean teepees in place, increasingly covered with growing bean vines.) What to do with the rest didn’t come to me immediately, until my compulsively overplanted tomatoes took off and passed my knees in height. In my ever-stringent effort to keep garden expenses to a minimum, it occurred to me that I could put my excess bamboo to use in the form of tomato cages.
There’s nothing special about their design. I don’t have a lot of extra time, so I wanted to keep their construction as simple as possible. First, I use a wood stake to make four post holes, into which I drop four sturdy pieces of bamboo, cut to 40 inches in length.
I used plain old yarn that I had in my closet to tie four smaller pieces of bamboo to join them surrounding the tomato plant, and I do this on two levels, although I could add a third if the tomato plants outgrow these.
I had enough bamboo to make cages to support 30 tomato plants. That’s about half of what I have planted. I haven’t yet decided what to use to support the rest, but I have to think of something soon. (I’ll let you know how that goes. My sister says she has a few wire cages left over from past seasons that she can lend me.) Whatever I come up with, I don’t think I can match the rustic charm of the cages I have in place so far.
The thing about using natural materials is that the pieces are not always uniformly straight, but I don’t mind. It all adds to their beauty. I’m not sure how bamboo weathers, but I’m hoping that these cages will last for several seasons.
My tomatoes share their bed with 18 pumpkin vines growing from six hills, along with random plantings of herbs, nasturtiums, marigolds and sunflowers. I can’t wait to see what this garden bed will look like in a few weeks.