Rebecca McMahon, a Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent for Sedgwick County, Kansas, demonstrates a slightly different method of setting up cattle panels to serve as vertical growing platforms than the method I described in my post about building a cattle panel arch.
The method she uses is to first cut the panel in half, and then tie the two pieces together at the top with metal hog rings. At the base the pieces are spread out to make an A-frame structure which fits into the raised beds used as shown in the video below. My arch trellis was placed directly on the ground as was secured by t-posts.
A DIY Tutorial: Repurposing an Old Cattle Panel
An easy DIY (do-it-yourself) vertical gardening project is the creation of an arch by bending a cattle panel into the arch shape, pounding four t-posts into the ground a little over one foot and securing the panel on both sides where each side touches the ground to these t-posts with post clips or wire.
Although you can cut up galvanized, welded cattle panels to form individual tomato cages, it is much easier to forego any cutting and simply place two 16′ panels side-by-side 18″-30″ apart to support multiple tomato plants. It’s easy, it’s strong, it can last for years and it takes maybe half an hour to set up. In my case, since I had some old damaged panels lying around that were once part of a horse enclosure, and a number of t-posts I got for free, this was essentially a no-cost project.
This text and picture version offers a little more information, but if you prefer a video presentation of this tutorial, you can find it at YouTube Cattle Panel Tutorial .
Over the years, gardeners have put empty plastic soda and water bottles to various uses in their gardens, but a group of urban gardening aficionados employed the collaborative open source concept of software development so prevalent on today’s web to create and enhance a growing system they named the WindowFarms Project. WindowFarms are sized to fit in front of the typical household window in an urban setting. The philosophy is this : if you have a window, you can grow your own food and create your own personal “green revolution”. The process was given the name R&D-I-Y, or Research & Develop It Yourself.
How It Works
The founders of Windowfarms came up with the DIY plans to tie together several plastic bottles in a vertical column fed by a drip of nutrient solution cascading down through each successive bottle to a reservoir (a larger bottle) at the bottom, which is then pumped back up to the topmost bottle using an inexpensive aquarium air pump. Basically, it’s the Poor Man’s Hydroponics. Below, Mayra Cimet’s how-to video illustrates the construction of a version 2 Windowfarm:
Story continues with an additional video and photos…
Perhaps you have some old tires lying around waiting for the day when you find the time to dispose of them at the local dump or recycling center. Water that collects inside the tires also becomes prime breeding grounds for that irksome cloud of hungry mosquitos that always seems to appear the minute you decide to enjoy some time in your yard or garden. Not to mention that trying to get that water out of the tire well is often an exercise in futility despite your best efforts at tire flipping, throwing and bouncing (Maybe they should make this an Olympic sport).
Unless you have a pickup truck or trailer, attempting to transport the tires may necessitate a secondary trip to the local auto detailer shop to get rid of the dirt, grime and muck that will likely find its way to your car’s seats or the carpet of its trunk. Not to mention any hitchhikers that you may pick up in the process, maybe a Black Widow spider or a lizard or two. To add insult to injury, you’ll probably have to spend $2 – $5 apiece to dispose of these tires. But is there another solution?
Most people who haven’t sent time on the farm or ranch are most likely unfamiliar with a very useful item, the standard 50″ by 16′ cattle panel, which can be purchased from farm and ranch supply companies such as Tractor Supply for approximately $25. These panels and a few t-posts allow the setting up of a temporary or permanent fence of a substantial size in very little time.
But in the vertical gardening milieu these stout, welded livestock panels can be put to other uses as well. A cattle panel can be used as a 16′ trellis, or cut in half to form two 8′ trellises, or set up as intended like a fence, but used as a 4′ high trellis 16′ long. Their flexibility allows bending the panel with both ends anchored on the ground forming an arch on which plants can grow or containers hung.
You can cut the panels using bolt cutters, a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade or an angle grinder with a metal cutting or diamond blade. You can cut a panel in half and use the two halves to construct an a-frame which climbing plants can readily grow up. Cut one into 8 two-foot sections, and you can assemble them into two tomato cages, or use two panels side-by-side about 30″ apart with tomato plants growing between the two.
Another use of the cattle panel is the construction of a greenhouse. Several panels are bent to form arches joined together in 50″ lengths until your greenhouse has the dimensions required. The ends are secured to a wooden plate or beam, or tied to pieces of galvanized pipe or rebar pounded into the ground, and some have even created a more elaborate setup with cinder blocks and concrete forming the base. Plastic sheeting is then draped over this framework and secured to the frame using any one of a variety of ties, clasps or screws.