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Support Your Vines

By Marie Harrison (can2growJuly 18, 2013
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Finding supports for vines growing in my garden has always been a challenge. Wooden fences rot, and sometimes a vine is wanted in a place where there is no fence or other support. Finally, I stumbled onto a solution that has made growing vines easy anywhere in the garden.

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I discovered a solution when I stumbled upon a roll of concrete reinforcing wire that a neighbor had discarded. Also known as welded wire or remesh, this steel wire is used to increase the tensile strength of concrete slabs. According to Lowe’s website, a roll 5 feet by 150 feet can be purchased for $107.00. Also available are pieces 4 feet by 7 feet and 3.5 feet by 7 feet, both listed at $7.25 each. How lucky was I to find a large roll that someone had discarded!

After finding the treasure, I walked back home to get the truck and Amiable Spouse. Both of us loaded the wire on back of the truck and brought it home. We stashed it behind the grape vine where it would be out of sight. However, when I needed a strong tomato cage for some vigorous tomato vines, the roll of wire presented the perfect solution.Image

I had only to cut the length of wire I wanted, and then roll it into a circle. Using wire to fasten the cut ends together, I had a dandy cage in a matter of minutes. Keep in mind that the wire is quite heavy, and strong wire cutters are required to cut it. You may need assistance holding the cut ends together and wiring them. These cages can be made to fit outside or inside of containers, or they can stand alone. The circumference can be whatever you make it. Height, too, is easily adjusted. You can cut it in half for cages 2.5 feet in height—or for whatever height you desire.
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Keeping the cage upright can be done any one of several ways. Sometimes I dig a trench at the bottom of the frame and bury it in a few inches of soil to stabilize it. At other times, I simply place three or four bricks along the bottom rungs of the frame to keep it from blowing over. The cages can be pinned to the ground with pins designed to anchor ground cover fabrics, or any other method you can devise. Amiable Spouse drives stakes into the ground and ties the cages to them. Some anchoring is necessary to keep your cage from blowing over in strong winds.  
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Vines being supported by my handy cage are not the very vigorous vines that climb to the tops of trees, such as trumpet creeper, cross vine, Virginia creeper, and such, but vines less vigorous in their growing habits. Ideally, the cages described in this article are great for many of the annual vines that die down each year and regrow the following season and vines of vegetable crops that need support to be brought up to eye level. 
 
Right now, if I examine my landscape carefully, I can find wire cages scattered about in numerous places. To my eye, the cages are not unattractive since the wire has rusted to an unobtrusive brown. My luffa grows on one such wire frame. The pipevine that feeds the pipevine swallowtail butterfly larvae has its own frame. The butterfly vine and the thunbergia all have their own special frames. A fine crop of green beans scrambles up two or three frames each spring, and vining peas and butterbeans are easy to harvest. The  cages are perfect for morning glories and other Ipomoea. Malabar spinach is handy for cutting and tossing into my smoothies, and purple hyacinth vine scrambles to the top of a cage and then cascades over gracefully. 

Whenever you need a sturdy cage for growing vining plants, the remesh fits the bill perfectly. It’s strong, sturdy, and reusable. I keep my cages year after year, and as yet, I have not lost one to rot or rust. Harvesting fruits and vegetables is a snap since the grid is large enough for your hand and whole arm to reach through. I highly recommend this simple, easy-to-make cage. The trick will be to find a free roll of remesh that someone has discarded. Barring that, go to a building supply store and purchase a roll. It will serve you for many years. 



  About Marie Harrison  
Marie HarrisonServing as a Master Flower Show Judge, a Floral Design Instructor, instructor of horticulture for National Garden Clubs, and a University of Florida Master Gardener immerses me in gardening/teaching activities. In addition to these activities, I contribute regularly to Florida Gardening magazine and other publications. I am author of four gardening books, all published by Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida. Read about them and visit me at www.mariesgardenanddesign.com.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
composter stapeliad 1 1 Sep 26, 2013 4:28 PM
Concrete reinforcing wire: too exensive Emerogork 4 31 Jul 23, 2013 11:01 AM
Universal support KanapahaLEW 1 7 Jul 22, 2013 9:54 AM
Nice idea Cville_Gardener 1 9 Jul 18, 2013 4:06 PM
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