Years ago I was able to get what was called, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” from a company which services the methane field. They put up and took down fencing that was around the methane pumps. They had a pile of the fencing and wanted to get rid of it. There was the downright tore up panels, The Ugly, that I cut with lock cutters into pieces to make tomato cages.
At first I cut four pieces per cage but as a increase in cages was needed, I went to using three instead.
They were not all cut into the same size as I was using what was available. At first I made sure to match up sizes but now I’m too busy to be picky. That means cages each year get put together with a motley look. Kind of like me. Sometimes I use string to hole the top of the pieces together and sometimes not.
I plant a tomato and then put the cage around it stepping on the bottom wire to push it into the ground. I use to put them as a triangle and then place them but usually now I just put them in a panel at a time. The choice is up to you.
The bottom rung is missing so that there are stakes that will penetrate the ground. I cut it out but leave the lateral pieces to form stakes that are pushed into the ground. Then I rake around the hay feeders and place the urine / manure / hay waste around the cages for mulch to protect the bare soil, increase fertility in the years to come, and help retain moisture. As you can see, one of the most appealing thing about these cages is how they lay flat when not in use.
We can have frost well into June some years in Wyoming and so I pre-cut heavy weight plastic wound around the outside and held in place with duct tape. I then fold them up when not needed and place them in the garden shed to be reused year after year. I have found these simple enclosures to be as effective as ‘Wall a Waters’ and easier to set up. And better yet, they are less expensive. We use cow panels anyway for the livestock and occasionally have one that is too damaged to be used further in that manner. The garden is a great place for them to retire. We will be using a few to build plant trellises in the greenhouse.