Cattle Panel Tomato Cage

Cattle Panels, Cattle Panels, Cattle Panels! I love the idea of using cattle panels in the garden! This is a how-to, step-by-step tutorial on how to take a 16-foot cattle panel and turn it into 2 tomato cages that are sure to hold up to your heaviest heirloom.

 One of the things I love about cattle panels is just how tough they are. They hold up really well to the weather, and to the abuse of the plants (wind included) - after all - they're designed to contain cattle. If you are as fond of cattle panels as I am, then you should also check out the article on how to use a cattle panel for Building A Strong Trellis. - Stephanie


First of all - I cannot take credit for this amazing idea. I've seen it done on a number of sites, but this particular article was directly inspired by organicgardening.com

Step 1. Go to your local Tractor Supply (or similar) store and purchase a 16-foot Cattle Panel that is 5-feet high, like this one. They cost around $20-$30, depending on where you live, and where you buy it.

cattle panel

 

Step 2. Get some Heavy Duty Wire Cutters and a good pair of Pliers

Step 3. Measure out 6 1/2 feet of the cattle panel.

Step 4. Use the Heavy Duty Wire Cutters to cut the cattle panel at the 6 1/2 foot mark. You want to make sure that you cut the panel so that there is excess horizontal wire. Also remove the bottom, horizontal wires (leaving the vertical wires) as pictured below (left side, and bottom)

cut panel1

The guys over at  Organic Gardening.com recommend that if you are using a pickup truck to transport the panels, that you cut the panels into the 6 1/2 foot lengths, prior to transport -- that's probably a pretty good ideas!

ogcage

Step 5. Using your 6 1/2 foot panel, you want to measure out 1 1/2 foot (18 inches) from the right side of the panel (as pictured above - ie. the side without the prongs).

Step 6: At the mark you just made (18 inches), you need to create a 90-degree bend. I have found 2 options for this:

  1. Follow the lead of the guys at OrganicGardening.com and take a 2x6 piece of wood, that is around 6 feet long. Then "place the plank so its edge aligns with the marks. With two people standing on the plank, bend the panel upward to make a 90-degree angle."
  2. Follow the lead of the folks over at Michigansnowpony and create a little homemade panel-bender (youtube video).

Step 7. Repeat step 6 2 more times, so that you have made a square with the cattle panel

Step 8. Use the prongs left from the first cut to attach the corner of the cage. The guys at organicgardening.com have found the most ingenius was to accomplish this,"to connect the two sides, slip the ring end of the box wrench over a wire stub; bend the stub until it loops around the vertical wire of the other panel side." (GENIUS!)