How to Build Tomato Cages

The post this week will be about my tomato cages.  Now, I didn’t come up with this method for tomato cages but it has worked well for me over the years.  The cages are very sturdy and allow harvesting of your ripe tomatoes easier than ever.

The purpose of a tomato cage is to simply keep the tomato plants from sprawling all over the place.  The more leaves in close contact with the ground encourages disease or fruit rot.  There are many methods out there on the internet for staking up tomato plants but the cost for some of these options is just too much in my experience.  I have tried many methods of staking tomato plants.  I have used bamboo poles (expensive to buy if you don’t have a bamboo patch), wood teepees (also expensive for the pressure treated wood…plus the pressure treatment is not something I want to ingest), string (rots before the season is over which causes the plants to fall over)…etc…etc…etc….

I found this method on the internet years ago and have been using it ever since.  It is very simple and cost effective.  All you need are the following:

  • Roll of 4′ x whatever length you need welded wire fencing.
  • wire cutters
  • gloves

The wire can be purchased at your local big box garden retailer or your local farm supply store.  It is important to get at least the 14 gauge welded wire fencing (you will see the mesh design in the pictures below but make sure you get the 2″ mesh).  This type of wire fencing will last for years if you take good care of it each season.

Instructions for building the tomato cages:

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Aquaponics @ C&L Farms – Update 2

Hello Everyone!  Here’s a quick post on the Aquaponics system progress.

We spent a couple hours digging the sump tank in the greenhouse.  This is backbreaking work but we wanted to have the sump tank below grade to utilize as much of the greenhouse space as we can.  The liner will be ordered soon as well as an underlayment to prevent any stray rocks from puncturing the liner.  We still have a little cleanup to do in the bottom of the sump as well as expanding the depth on one side to allow a deeper area for the pump.

Sump Tank for Aquaponics system

The ground is red clay (it’s everywhere in Georgia btw) so the digging is not easy.  I used my Troybilt tiller to help break up the dirt but the sump is too deep now to safely get the tiller in and out of the sump tank.

The plan is to lay the liner in the sump and over the sides.  We will then add some solid bricks on top of the liner around the edge to hold the HDPE pond liner in place.  This will also give us a solid & level foundation for a wooden bridge over the tank so we can work around the growbeds that will be positioned above the sump tank.

We also spent some time this weekend laying out the rows for the lettuce and carrots in the dirt garden.  We wanted to get the carrots and lettuce in the ground earlier than now but have been dealing with a lot of rain which makes it impossible to work in the garden.

Lettuce and Carrot rows layed out

Since this is a new plot we have not had time to add a lot of amendments to the soil this Spring.  We are going to section off this area for some ground cover and as we harvest the carrots and lettuce, we will be adding more ground cover.  This section of the garden area will be lightly planted this season but we hope to use it for some of our fall crops once the ground cover is plowed in later this summer.

That’s it for this update.  We will post pictures of our transplants that are going gangbusters under the grow lights.  Tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), cucumber, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini just to start.  The lower plot is taking its sweet time drying out but it will be planted with our rattlesnake pole beans!  We can’t wait for them!!!

As always, if you like this post please let us know by clicking the Like buttons on this post.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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Aquaponics @ C & L Farms

Hello Readers!

This is the first post in a new series called “Aquaponics @ C & L Farms”.  Over the next few months, we will be blogging our trials and tribulations on our first Aquaponics system.  Please keep in mind that this is not a commercial Aquaponics system by any stretch.  This is simply a small diversion in our overall gardening program which we hope to use as a stepping stone for other home gardeners to use for sustainable gardening practices in their own personal gardens.  We will be learning how to maintain an Aquaponics system simply as a way to inspire others to look at Aquaponics as “a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.”

We have already started the project by digging the sump tank for our CHIFT PIST configuration.  For those of you new to Aquaponics, I will try to include a brief definition of the terms and abbreviations used which are associated with Aquaponics.  To get this started, here is the definition for CHIFT PIST:

CHIFT PIST:  Constant Height In Fish Tank, Pump in Sump Tank.  Basically, this means the sump tank, usually below the level of the fish tank, will have the pump in it and water will be pumped from the sump up to the fish tank.  The fish tank will then overflow at a set height down pipes, via gravity, into the growbeds.  The growbeds will then fill to a desired height, usually around 1″ below the top of the media, and some form of siphon will be activated which will drain the growbeds back into the sump tank.

We will be posting more details and pictures of the build as it progresses over the next few months.  We will also be sprinkling in other blog posts about the farm or topics that we find interesting and want to share with our readers.

Once we have the Aquaponics system in place and running, we would be happy to show anyone local to the Douglasville, GA area how the system works.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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Greenhouse and Barn Final Inspection

The greenhouse and barn final building inspection was performed today and we have been approved.  Just a few final painting tasks are left to do to be completely finished with the build.  Now we can concentrate on the electricity hookup that is still needed and is a separate permit inspection.  We just wanted to let everyone know the status.  Have a great day!

Egg Candling Certification

We attended an egg candling class last week. Happy to say I passed the written exam as well as the candling part. Very informative. I learned a lot. Now I am certified to sell eggs (from my chickens) in Georgia.  The class was free and once the certificate is notarized, we will be certified to sell our eggs.  Now we just need to finish the chicken coop and order the chicks.  I guess you could say we counted our chicks before they hatched!  Hope everyone is having a great week.

Barn and Greenhouse Update

This past weekend was ideal for getting some work done on the greenhouse. Temps in the mid 50’s and dry allowed us to get out and finish the walls and part of the rafters for the roof on the greenhouse. We also spent some time plowing up the middle and lower garden plots. We will be sending off a soil sample in the coming weeks so we have time to apply any amendments needed.

The middle of the week shows snow and ice coming in to the Atlanta area so doesn’t look like much will get done on the roof of the greenhouse this coming weekend. We have been plotting out the planting schedule for the Spring also. We are also spending the cold days this Winter preparing the tomato cages for the 40+ tomato plants we are planning this Spring. Look for a video soon with instructions on making these simple tomato cages.

This year we are planting some Rattlesnake Pole Beans for the first time. This was a popular pole bean at the farmers market last year and we wanted to add this popular pole bean to our early summer lineup. We are also setting up the transplant shelves with the new grow lights this weekend. It’s almost time to get many of our early Spring seeds into some dirt so they are ready for the April 15th last frost.

We are also preparing the site for the chicken coop. We are waiting for some warmer weather so we can pour the concrete foundation and start the coop build. Once we start this build we will be posting the progress on our website blog as well as on our Facebook page.

As always, we ask everyone to continue to share our Facebook page with your friends and for you to take a minute to share this post with your friends. Visit our website @ for more information about our farm.

Greenhouse Progress

Everything is ticking along for the Spring plantings. We are still finishing up the storage building and greenhouse but this bitter cold in Georgia has slowed the progress down a lot. Hope for better weather this weekend so we can finish up the siding and to get started on the framing for the greenhouse.

We are also still planning our test Aquaponics system once the greenhouse is finished. We are slowly getting the materials and liners for the fish tank and the growbeds. This season will have 95% of our vegetables and herbs coming from the dirt garden but we hope to have some unique vegetables from the Aquaponics test system by early Summer.

We are also planning on selling some tomato and pepper transplants at The Dallas Farmer’s Market in Dallas GA ( starting in May 2014.

Please help us spread the word about our farm venture to your friends on Facebook. Be sure to like our new page C & L Farms ( to help us promote self-sufficiency using Aquaponics.

Happy New Year to everyone who supports us now.