Using old tent poles for netting support

Idea sent in by Sow & Sow Steve (Huntingdon). June 2011

This is a great idea I found very useful on our local allotment for a netting support over strawberries or other low growing vegetables. Fiberglass tent poles from an old tent are ideal for providing support as they are flexible and the length of the poles can be adjusted by adding or removing sections. The ends of the poles need to be secured to the ground either by tying to stakes or (as shown in the picture below) held against the inside edges of a raised bed. As the poles are made from fiberglass they should last for a lifetime and also because of its curved shape I have found this type of netting support to be very sturdy and less prone to wind damage than a square sided cage.

fiberglass tent poles used for netting support over strawberries

To create your cage you will need to get hold of an old one / two person tent (not the large frame tents - although the frames from these can make excellent fruit cages). You can also buy replacement tent poles on ebay or maybe pick up some from a junk shop. The poles you want usually come in 1 metre (or smaller) sections with a metal sleeve at one end for connecting the sections together. Make-up two lengths of poles to the size required and cross them over in the middle to form a dome shape (as shown above). Secure one end of each pole, bend to shape and secure the other end. You will need to keep tension on the assembled poles as they are usually just a push fit. Once the pole ends are secured and the netting is stretched over and tied down, this should keep the whole frame in place.

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