Friday, July 25, 2014

Tomato cage

I think I tried to grow lettuces and herbs our first spring here. The herbs did great. The bunnies liked the lettuces. I have plans for next spring to transplant hostas and lilies from the flower bed along the patio and put vegetables there. I need something close to the house, slightly raised, and easy to water. It might not be the most creative landscape, but it is certainly practical.

This year I'm growing herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, bay leaf. They're my staples. And because basil is better with tomatoes, I purchased two heirloom varieties and planted one by the herbs, and one by the hostas along the patio.

I have never used tomato cages. Before, we just let them grow wild wherever they wanted. But here, I'm tight on space (sunny space, I should say). I also wanted to protect them from whatever would eat them.

A recent visit with a neighbor, and she was showing me the raised beds they put in their backyard. (Lovely!) We talked about tomato cages, and she showed me the materials her husband uses to make cages. She said they're sturdier than the store cages. I mentally put it on a to-do list, and sort of knew that it would never really get done.

She called me the other day to say they had extra fencing they could give me to make a cage. I was so happy, mostly because I knew I'd never get around to buying my own or making a cage. So here's to a summer garden project, thanks to a kick-start from a friend.

I get there to get the fencing, and her husband takes me out to their deck and measures it out per cage. I thought we were done. Then he pulls out pliers and starts making the cages for me.

"Sit down," he offered. I watched as he turned the wire around and around, securing the sides together a row at a time. I knew immediately that I would not have been so careful--remember, I have a to-do list that's every bit seventeen years long. He is a builder, and the time and attention he put into such a small project affirmed the care and intention that he brings to his life.

"This is more than I expected. You don't have to do this," I said.

He brushed it off, and then began to tell me stories about gardening, renovations, and hunting. He spoke unhurried, all the while turning wire around and around. It took him about 15 minutes to make one. Then he started on the next, talking leisurely. Erin played fetch and hide-n-seek with their dogs. His wife came out and chatted too.

When the second cage was completed, he gave me ties and large wooden stakes.

"These will last you years," he said. 

He gave me tips on securing the plants. Then Erin and I carried the cages back home--me, completely bewildered by their endless generosity towards us.

I sent her this photo with heartfelt thanks. I see this outside of my kitchen window and smile.

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